We work with the CS and EE teams to develop mechanical capabilities we want our robots to have, and then design features to allow those capabilities. Design primarily happens in Solidworks and we subsequently build by hand almost every piece in the machine shops at Harvard and MIT. Previous mechanical experience is useful but not required, as we offer machine-shop training and offer projects for team members at any experience level.
The electronics team is responsible for communicating commands from our central computer to each robot and powering our motors to actually do what we want. We design our own circuit boards from scratch to efficiently and smoothly drive our powerful three-phase motors as well as quickly charge our kicker circuit to 250 volts.
In April 2006, we competed in the US open against Carnegie Mellon and Laval. As this was our first competition, we learned very much — everything from the importance of geometric calibration to correct for camera distortion to the fact that our robots will not move if we try to avoid obstacles by too large of a radius. (the ME and EE people learned a lot as well, but a CS person is writing this…) We came in second place and now have a large trophy that lives in a glass case by Maxwell-Dworkin cafe.
In June 2006, we competed in the Robocup world cup in Bremen, Germany. It was very exciting for us to go, especially as we had not even been sure if we could qualify this first year. The world cup was not only for the small-size league, but also for the mid-size, aibo, humanoid, rescue, and robocup junior leagues, so there was always something fun to watch in our down time, when we had any. We played in a bracket against Field Ranger (Singapore), Plasma-Z (Thailand), KIKS (Japan), and B-Smart (Germany). Though we did not win any of our games, it was really great to watch and play against so many good teams. This competition was the best learning experience we’d had all year, and we got many good ideas for how to improve our systems for next year!
In May 2009, we hosted the US Open tournament and played against Georgia tech and Carnigie Mellon. the organization of the tournament and a lot of the development effort that year were due to the CS199r class at Harvard (special thanks to Prof. Nagpal), which got a lot of people motivated and involved in the team. During the competition, both teams were ahead of us, but they helped us a lot in identifying issues with our system and describing some design decisions they had made while being close to our state.
In June 2009, we participated in the world cup in Graz, Austria. We were significantly behind, but constantly improved with every game. During five competition days, the CS subteam had total commits of over 5,000 lines of code! We ended up losing again, but we could pinpoint all current issues and knew how to handle most of them.
In June 2010, we played in the world cup in Singapore. Earlier that year, the ME and E subteams came up with a slew of improvements of our design and our robots were more reliable, faster and stronger than ever. Our newly formed controls subteam made sure that we have robust controllers that closely matched the current hardware. On the world cup, we could only play with 4 out of 5 robots and non-surprisingly lost. However, compared to previous years, we were miles ahead – all loses were close (not the previous onslaughts) and we managed to make very decent attacks during the games. We set up a few friendly games immediately after the competition and there we had our first tie (with Georgia tech) and our first victory! (with UC Thunderbots). After that, we are more motivated than ever to keep improving!
We always welcome new members who love robots and are willing to work hard to make our robots good! Please email any of us below to learn more about joining.
Kate Donahue: kdonahue@
Erik Schluntz: eschluntz@
David Gaddy: firstname.lastname@example.org