ILLINIhilation Robotics: End of Season Review

The ILLINIhilation Robotics Team has completed another successful season this year. Although our team was slightly behind schedule in the building of the robot, we pushed through the final week before competition and completed a fully functioning robot, with all the components and features we had designed. We used the “iRobotics MRDC standard” when it comes to frames: one-inch square aluminum tubing in a box shape. This allowed us to have more than enough room for all of our components, as well as giving us the ability to easily make additions or modifications without dealing with space issues. The drivetrain we created was very similar to the jump drive system used last season, except with a major improvement on the module panels. Utilizing waterjet cutting, we cut aluminum panels to the exact dimensions needed for perfectly tensioned chains, so no tensioners or other means were needed. This greatly improved the building process and overall performance of the drivetrain. We also upgraded our drive motors to a brushless system, giving us immense power behind our wheels for high maneuverability and speed.

Our main soccer ball manipulator was designed to be multitasking: being able to intake multiple soccer balls from the ground, hold the scoring bin door open, and deposit all the soccer balls into the bin. We used a conveyor belt system that allowed for bidirectional movement of the soccer balls to intake and output them. Using a linear actuator, we were able to mount the conveyor system in such a way that the input/output side of the conveyor can be raised and lowered, allowing for ground pickup, and also scoring into a bin that is above the ground. This pivot motion also acted as a way to open and hold the scoring bin door. For our key manipulator, we utilized the ILLINIhilation’s “famous” robotic arm, making some modifications to have a 3D-printed gripper specifically designed for grabbing and manipulating the aluminum key. We also extended the forearm to more than two feet long so that the arm can reach high enough to grab the key. The elbow joint motor system thus needed to be upgraded to support the larger weight, so we constructed a makeshift servo using a CIM motor and gearbox with an encoder. The programming team diligently developed a proportional–integral–derivative (PID) controller loop to control the motor so that it acts like a large servo motor.

All of features of the robot worked out very well in the competition. Although we were not able to advance very far in the elimination rounds of the competition due to an electronics malfunction right before the start of a round, the ILLINIhilation team is still very proud of what we have created. We have learned a lot from this year, and we are all very excited to put what we have learned this year into our next robot for our final year!