Introducing our 2015 Robot:
"The Blues Brothers"

Elwood:
Drive - 4-wheel Chain Drive, VexPro Omni and Traction Wheels
Scoring Mechanisms - Six Tote & Can Conveyor, Front-Mounted Container Intake Wheels

Jake:
Drive - Stationary In Front of Human Player Chute, Tethered To Elwood
Scoring Mechanisms - Fully Automatic Six Tote Stacker & Rail-Mounted Can Lift, Tote Intake Wheels

Other:
Uses all VexPro VersaPlanetaries, Mini-CIMs, BAG motors and VersaFrame Components #TeamIFI

Why build tethered robots?

Intensive mathematical analysis reveals it is possible to guarantee victory if an alliance can score 4+ tote stacks with containers while denying the middle containers to an opposing alliance. But 4+ stacks for a single robot requires more than 2 minutes - arghh. Is it possible to build something that can work with other members of the alliance? Conclusion: Not likely... Hey, there are no width and length restrictions this year! Eureka moment follows... we can make two robots that are designed to work together! After a lengthy risk analysis we made an aggressive decision to build Jake and Elwood, The Blues Brothers, and to look for complementary alliance members to control the center containers. Of course we hoped we might be the only team crazy enough to try this but now there is a #TeamTether.

How fast can one stack totes?

Every design decision is about shortening the cycle to stack totes. We stack from the bottom so the motion of the stacker is consistent and minimized. We use intake rollers to get the totes inside the stacker quickly and consistently. Jake can run in an automation mode not requiring human intervention and stacking totes at the fastest rate possible (using the chosen tether, transmission and motors). In theory we can stack all the totes available to the human player but scoring them is another matter.

How to put containers on stacks?

To shorten the stack cycle Jake uses dual carriages riding on rails with clever splines to lift a container, placed in the loading position by Elwood, on a 5-stack before lifting the last tote. Putting a noodle in the can is pretty easy in this horizontal orientation.

How to score stacks?

Elwood feeds containers to Jake and transports the competed stacks to the scoring platforms. The motions required by Elwood are optimized. Elwood can convey stacks from Jake from the front and convey stacks on the scoring platforms in the rear. In theory Elwood never has to turn around! In practice getting the containers to stay on the stack is dicey - we are working on design iterations to improve this feature.

What can we do in the autonomous period?

Elwood has a 3-tote solo stacker (not shown in the picture) but it puts us overweight. We are looking at alternatives.

Iterative design efforts?

We NEVER stop improving the robot. After the Dallas Regional we moved the can lift mechanism from Jake to Elwood and added a claw to maintain positive control over the container at all times. It worked! We were seeded #1 after qualfication matches and won the Alamo Regional!