Featherweight robot- TRIZ

This week I carried out research on build diaries on the FRA forums and Youtube. In addition I started to look at light weight robot designs and identified the key requirements for my robot. The build diaries helped me realise the things I need to consider in my design and also help me identify trends in robot designs in the featherweight class.

The key design requirements of my robot are the following:

  • Durable and easy to repair .
  • Adaptable for future competitions.
  • Easy to control as driving skill is something that is judged in FRA competitions. Plus if you can’t control the robot you won’t hit anything!
  • Small frame and nimble to make the robot hard to hit thus reducing the risk of damage which reduces time to repair.
  • Can fit off the shelf components  to make it easier to build and repair.
  • Safe to handle for inspection and repairs.
  • Lightweight
  • Not complex , the more complex something is the bigger chance it can fail.

Some of these requirements would actually contradict each other which is a common issue in design and it is something designers need to overcome.

Luckily there is a tool called TRIZ which helps designers identifies design principles that will help remove or reduce the issues of these contradictions. Using TRIZ matrix is pretty simple all you need to match the thing you want to improve on the left hand side of the table against the issue you want to remove on the top row. Once you match each criteria you notice a set of numbers in the box which indicate TRIZ principles that would solve the contradiction.

From the TRIZ matrix some of the design ideas were developed.

  • Make some parts nest within each other or orientate some parts on their side to maximise space utlisation.
  • Use same components to carryout different tasks like use structure as part of the robots armour and weapons.
  • Make interchangeable parts have adaptor plates where new components can be inserted into body.
  • Add pours to structure to reduce weight and look to use pours to house components

In the next video I will cover my initial concept ideas.

Featherweight robot – Defining the problem

The 1st thing you want to work on before you come up with concepts is to understand the problem you want to solve. So you want to carry out some research of your market or problem you want to solve and incorporate your findings into a product design specification. A product design specification is a document used to capture all of the requirements your product will need to accomplish.

Youtube video 

For example with my robot project I bought a membership for the Fighting Robot Association and started to research the forums for competition details. Initially I wanted to build a lightweight robot because they would be cheaper and easier to build than a heavyweight bot but I found out that there isn’t really any lightweight or medium weight competitions in the UK and its usually heavy, feather and antweight.  I do want to eventually construct a heavyweight but when you are doing something for the 1st time it’s best to keep things as simple as possible.

During my initial research I found the rules and regulations for FRA competitions. These regulations would be included in my product design specifications. <Explain PDS>

One thing I want to add is your PDS is a living document so it will get updated throughout the design process as my understanding of the competition, previous winners, other competitors and available components so I will have an update video of the completed PDS.

In the next video I will cover market research and TRIZ which will help with concept generation.

New Youtube Series

When I was younger I used to watch Robot Wars I wanted to build a robot and enter the competition. I thought with the new year I would carry out a personal project where I will build a featherweight fighting robot.

This series cover the design process of developing a product with a real life project. I thought it would be useful to help teach people about design and the thought process behind it with an actual physical product. I will also cover manufacturing, testing and me competing the competition.

Carrying out this project will develop my mechanical engineering skills and help me become a well rounded engineer. Plus I don’t want to be an engineer who is just good at 3D modelling and engineering drawings, I want to have practical skills such as machining, welding, CNC programming as I want to an engineer who not only designs but can builds things.

I thought about making this series for beginners showing them how to build a robot from a beginners perspective and the challenges I will face. But the main focus of this series is to help encourage others to tackle a project or challenge when that will allow them to grow and develop. Obviously I will accept advice and assistance from people who have experience in robot building as I want to develop a community where everyone assists and collaborates with each other.

The next video will cover defining the project and identifying all the design requirements for the robot. See you all there.