Designing Stable Robots for Competitions
Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Page
This page will help students make connections between structure, stability and competition robots. Before reading this page, have students brainstorm different features and parts of robots that are related to stability and write these ideas in their engineering notebooks. Once students have written down their ideas, read through this page as a whole-class.
The importance of stability with competition robots
Competition robots are moving objects that must have the ability to extend, lift, and move quickly without tipping over. According to the rules, teams are not allowed to touch their robot after a match begins, so it is important to consider stability when designing a competition robot. If the robot tips over and is unable to right itself again, the team has likely lost the match.
Teams need to consider the features of their robots that are related to their stability:
Center of gravity
It is good practice to map out a plan and sketch your design in an engineering notebook prior to building your robot as it is likely that many iterations will be needed to find the design that works best.
Teacher Toolbox - Trade-offs
Any student designing and planning a competition robot should recognize that there are trade-offs between speed and stability. Ask students how they might plan for this trade-off. The students should plan to reduce the speed at least when turning sharply (related to traction) or when extending the robot's manipulators (related to center of gravity).
Extend Your Learning - Selecting Stable Drivetrains
To expand this activity, ask students to view this year's game by clicking on this link. Next, ask students to read How to Select a Drivetrain for a Competition Robot. Ask them to discuss and determine which design would be most effective for this year's game if they were only considering speed. Then ask them which design would be most effective if they were only considering stability. You can also ask which drivetrain would they choose, and why. Students should consider the trade-off between speed and stability before summarizing their thoughts in their engineering notebooks.