Backlog: BogieBot (FTC)

Last school year (2010-2011) I participated in the FIRST Tech Challenge competition through my local robotics club. In FTC, teams construct robots to compete in a game at regional and national competitions. Last year's game was FTC "Get Over It!"

Game explanation
We designed an innovative type of rocker bogie suspension for our robot, which we named BogieBot. The Lego prototype that I personally built was able to climb over all the terrain, even climbing up the cliffs!
 Prototype video
Our first scoring design was very ambitious. We tried to make an large arm head with conveyors on a huge arm that would grab and score batons.
Arm head teaser
Unfortunately, the arm head unbalanced the robot and the arm was so heavy it burned out motors. On top of that, it was nearly impossible for it to dispense batons (too much precision required). After our first competition, we tore out the entire arm assembly and designed a new scoring mechanism. It included a fast baton dispenser made mostly out of Lego parts.
Dispenser teaser
It included many other parts too, but I won't spoil it for you. Presenting... The completed BogieBot.  
Full robot
Thanks to technical difficulties, we didn't do well enough to qualify for the national competition, but we earned valuable experience and we made one of the best robots out there.


  1. How dare they not allow you to enter?! This was great. I feel sorry that they didn't let you in, but it was definitely worth the effort. I'll be very honest with you though (you might not like me for saying this); building robots to play a game ONE TIME is a waste. I'd prefer competitions that test robots' abilities to perform tasks useful to our lives. For example, look at iRobot's scouting machines. A competition involving missions such as theirs would be much more interesting. Not only will you get awards, you'll acquire the knowledge necessary to build something that's useful in the long run. But if the competition simply must be a game like this, I'd say Lego all the way. NXT could totally dominate the scenario with the batons; the only issue would be the need for more receiver channels if you're using PF, but I'm sure the competitors would have the knowledge to work around that. And looking at the size of the playing field the PF receivers shouldn't even go out of range. You even made a lego prototype for BogieBot and it worked great. Hell, even the metal BogieBot had legos. I'm telling you man, if this competition was fully Lego it wouldn't be a waste of money and metal. Isn't it like half a thousand bucks per kit and some extra fees to enter the game? Legos are cheaper and through my extensive experience with Technic parts a guarantee you 110% that all of BogieBot's mechanisms and chassis could have been made durably in Lego. I'm not saying this just because I made the Battlebots game and I'm biased (even the real Battlebots series bores me); I really think that there is no need for a simple game to have such gravity. I mean, it's a game. But nonetheless dude, I can see this was a great experience for you; I'm sure I would've had fun participating but I'm just not the kind of guy to pay for this nor would I have the time for it. But if the robots had a much more serious mission...who knows? We might have met face to face. I hope I don't sound like I'm ranting lol.

    1. I believe that's your biggest wall of text yet, and yes, it sounds a bit like a rant. =) The reason why we built metal robots and competed in a game was to learn more about real-life engineering. Real robots aren't only made of Lego. =) Metal parts are a lot stronger (and bigger) than Lego pieces; even though I'm a strong supporter of Lego construction I've got to admit that Tetrix U-channels are a lot better for large-scale construction. On BogieBot we used Lego for the details, but not for the main structure. That's the fun of having a building system that allows large metal parts AND small plastic parts. The top of the electronics actually was an NXT brick being controlled through a radio interface, one sensor port controls all of the Tetrix motors and the sensors we used were NXT sensors with the exception of the rotation sensors on the Tetrix motors. All in all it's a great system. Another thing: Tetrix beams are reusable just like Legos, so next year you can take it apart and build a new robot. I wouldn't say that the metal gave the game more "gravity" (though it did make the bots heavier and more durable), it just made it possible to have fun building robots for an application similar to real-world engineering problems. If the robots had been made of Lego, there would almost certainly have been many more breakdowns (and there were plenty even with metal screws connecting metal beams) and more broken pieces. Aircraft-grade aluminum just has a leg up on plastic.