I created meki for MIT's 2.007 robot competition. Along the way, I gained much experience in machine fabrication, electrical controls, and mechanical design. The class was an awesome way of experiencing MIT's motto "mind and hand."
The competition revolved around a gameboard with the theme of the American Revolution. Players had two minutes to earn points through various tasks, such as pushing bean bags off the deck, climbing hills, or placing lanterns on ledges. My strategy involved climbing a steep hill and placing wooden balls, or "cannonballs," into chutes on the top bridge.
It was crucial to test concepts like physical mechanisms, automated control, and center of gravity through quick prototypes. I learned the importance of testing fast and failing fast in order make improvements throughout the iterative design process.
My engineering sketchbook was my best friend throughout the semester. Documenting my ideas and plans helped me organize my thoughts and break down complicated design concepts. Below were some preliminary ideas for picking up the wooden balls and climbing the steep hill.
The final robot design involves two main functions. First, it scoops balls into itself and releases them into the chutes by rotating the clear acrylic arm underneath. Second, it climbs the steep hill without tipping by latching onto the side ledge and using the spiked attachment on its scooper to pick-and-pull itself up (imagine ice climbing). The robot operates with four servos, one motor, a battery, some Arduino programming, and a remote control device.
The robot worked the day before students submitted their robots for the competition but unfortunately failed to climb the hill while performing on the last day. I am still grateful for experiencing success at some point after all my hard work and for learning as much as I did in the class. I had so much fun designing and building my robot and am looking forward to my future as a mechanical engineering student!