Iterative Design of a Competition Robot
Competition teams do not just show up at a competition with the first robot that they designed. Teams go through a process to make sure that their best chance of winning is represented on the competition field. To achieve this many teams first create a schedule that fits the team’s objectives. After studying the game and its components, teams begin to collaborate and iterate on what they want to include on their robot to maximize points. Those iterations are repeatedly tested and changed as the robot performs the game requirements. This process of designing a product which is tested and evaluated repeatedly at different stages of design is called iterative design. And the iterative design process should be fully documented within the team's engineering notebook.
It takes time to get the right design. Designing, building, and testing can be a long process. Mistakes are learning opportunities for teams. Many robots that take the field at their last competition look nothing like they did at their first. As the team grows and changes, so will the robots look and feel. This learning process is valuable to participants as it gives them a real-life application of the skills they will need to succeed in the future.
It is very important for the team to keep track of what was learned, how you incorporated the experience into the next iteration, and the effects of the enhancements that the team made all within the engineering notebook. The image on this page is a list of criteria for quality engineering notebooks. You can see how detailed and organized an engineering notebook should be in order to be considered complete or even outstanding. VEX Robotics Competitions include a Design Award that requires that teams submit their engineering notebooks so that the judges can review the quality of their work and the process(es) they went through to reach their final robot designs.