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Changing the Velocity of Competition Robots

Competition Team
Changing the velocity is an important skill in competitions

Speed and Control

Competition robots are required to move through a course with precise and accurate movements. They also move, stack, or grab certain objects in order to be awarded points. Robots have to be able to properly change velocity in order to make more controlled movements. For example, if a robot is required to pick up an object, having the robot approach the object at its full velocity before picking it up will likely cause the robot to run into or over the object. It would be more beneficial for the robot to slow down in front of the object before picking it up.

Time is one of the biggest constraints in a competition match. The robot has to try to accumulate as many points as possible during the given time limit. To do this, the robot must move as fast as it can while still maintaining control. If the robot needs to move around a specific object, reducing the velocity allows the robot to have more control while turning. In order to move the robot forward or in reverse as fast as it can, the velocity must also be able to increase. The challenge in competition matches is finding the balance between having the robot move at a high velocity and control in order to obtain as many points as possible!

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning - Using Velocity to Win

Have students imitate a competition challenge by practicing navigating around objects. Create a course that contains five objects of differing sizes. Ask the students to navigate around all of the objects in the fastest amount of time without losing control of the robot.

Encourage students to revisit the Play section of this STEM lab if they need assistance with programming the robot to change its velocity while driving forward, in reverse, or turning. Award students one point for each object they can navigate around without touching and/or losing control of their robot. Losing control of the robot includes having it tip over or run into objects. Also award points for time. Each student starts with eight points and then it decreases for each minute the student spent having their robot navigate the course.

This scored challenge will start to get students into the mindset of a competition, and how they can be efficient and precise with their robot while changing its velocity.