After the kick-off begins the construction season. This will end during the first competition in which the team participates. The transport time of the robot amputates more precious time during this period. Thus, the construction period lasts from 6 to 10 weeks. It is therefore not a sprint but a marathon full of pitfalls. To advance as much as possible, the team must meet every weekend (Saturday + Sunday) and on certain Wednesdays. To explain the course of a construction season we will divide this period here into 3:
- Right after the kick-off: determine the team strategy.
- The first weeks: prototyping in master word.
- The end of the construction season
1 – Right after the kick-off: determine the team’s strategy
The very evening of the kick-off, the serious things begin. After knowing the rules of the game, you must determine the strategy to adopt to win the Regional. What goals will the team have to accomplish this season? Thus, a list of projects to be carried out during the construction period is drawn up. If possible, try to classify the elements of the list in order to know which projects will have priority over the others.
Examples of projects to be carried out can be: catching a game element, launching this element into the goal, fulfilling the goal of end of match, doing such action in autonomous phase …
However, discussions around the strategy should not encroach on construction time. This phase is necessary to launch the various construction projects but should not replace the construction of the robot. So, there is no point in discussing the kick-off the same evening of ideas for mechanisms to create this year.
2- The first weeks: prototyping in master word
After the kick-off, you must quickly give way to prototyping. This is to test ideas of mechanisms capable of meeting the objectives set by the game. Brainstorm in small groups to share your ideas even the most wacky then build prototypes. To prototype, use whatever is in your hands and especially the wood. Drills can also be used as a motor. In short, test and improve your ideas. CAD (Computer Aided Design) can also be used as a prototyping tool.
During the first days, some adult teams challenge themselves to build a robot in 3 days or in 100 hours. Many of them disseminate their progress via YouTube videos. Organize collective viewing of videos of Robot in 100h and Robot in 3 days: they should serve as major sources of inspiration.
Also remember to build the parts of the terrain that interest you so that you can test your mechanisms in “almost” real conditions.
As prototyping progresses, monitor the progress of projects. If a project turns out to be too ambitious, it is sometimes better to abandon it than to persist. It is obvious that you will not be able to build the perfect robot in less than 10 weeks. However, by being a strategist and deploying your energy on the right projects, you can make a very good robot.
In 2017, the game consisted of the manipulation of gears and yellow balls. During the construction season, Robo’Lyon decided to favor the handling of the gears. This strategy paid off, leading to the Montreal Robotics Festival victory without the robot throwing a single yellow ball during the competition.
Finally, in addition to prototyping, decide on the general organization of your robot. Indeed, the final objective is to build a complete robot where all the mechanisms interact perfectly with each other. There comes a time when designing the CAD robot becomes important.
3 – The end of the construction season
During the end of the construction season, the main focus is on assembling the final robot. Even after weeks of hard work, there will still be insufficient time to finalize the robot. So be prepared to stay late at night alongside the robot. However, even if these moments are the most tiring, they will also be the ones that will leave you with the best memories.
Also, keep in mind that the robot you send out on the last evening will be the same robot that will be waiting for you on the first day of your Regional. So make sure that this robot is functional and reliable.
Of course, the main goal of the construction season is to build a robot. But above all, do not leave other activities to a standstill.
First, do not forget to communicate about your construction season on your social networks. This is the most important period of the year for you and your followers should therefore be informed. Describe your progress on the different projects: the other teams also look at your networks and showing what you do will earn you respect with them. Each year, teams are used to broadcasting a “robot reveal”, it is a video revealing your robot to the general public at the end of the construction season.
In addition, prepare your Regional! If the robot plays an important role in matches, the pilot is just as important. It is therefore essential to give him time to train. A Formula 1 driver is not aware of the controls of his vehicle on the Grand Prix circuit! So it is the same for the pilot (and the co-pilot) who must control the robot on the fingertips.
Awards also play an important role in the success of your competition. Some may even qualify you for the championship. So make a selection of the awards targeted by the team and prepare as best as possible to win them. And to win a prize, one person’s work isn’t enough, the whole team must be aware of our “arguments”. Indeed, during the competition, it is the judges who decide which teams are the most deserving. They roam the stands of the different teams to question the students they meet. Thus, everyone must be able to talk about the team and the robot and guide the judges towards the award that interests them.
Finally, strategy also plays a key role during a Regional. It is therefore necessary, prior to the competition, to gather as much information as possible about the other teams. Determine the best teams, the ones that need to be followed closely. This will be useful when selecting alliances: you can then choose the best partners or “seduce” the best teams, hoping that they will choose you.