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Object Manipulation
A robotic arm designed to manipulate objects in outer space

Object Manipulation Overview

All robots are designed with a purpose in mind, and these purposes can vary greatly. Robots are traditionally used for tasks that would be unsuitable for a human to do, mainly because these tasks are dangerous or inaccessible to humans. Dangerous tasks like bomb disposal or handling hazardous waste, as well as inaccessible tasks such as interplanetary exploration are all perfectly suited to robots.
To fulfill their purposes, many robots are required to interact with their environment, and the world around them. Sometimes they are required to move or reorient objects from their environments without direct contact by human operators.

The need for object manipulators applies in competition robotics as well. In the typical VEX Robotics Competition, students build a robot to play head-to-head matches against other robots. These games traditionally include some sort of game object that robots must manipulate in such a way that they score points.

Some basic examples of manipulators are:

In competition robotics, it is often advantageous to be able to collect multiple game objects at one time. This requires a specific type of object manipulator called an accumulator. An accumulator is a robot mechanism designed to pick up a large number of similar objects. Here are some examples of accumulators:

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox

Click on the links above to read more about each type of manipulator and accumulator.

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning

To extend the lesson, have the students research DARPA and explore the robots that have been created through this organization and the competitions they sponsor.

To extend the lesson, have students sketch a tool that they could use at home to help with a household chore. Their tool must use either a manipulator or accumulator. Students should create their tools in their engineering notebooks.