Students to compete in FIRST "LUNACY" competition

We've covered FIRST robotics extensively in the past, so we're of course excited to talk about "Lunacy", the 2009 FRC game. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, the FIRST Game Design Committee has designed the playing field to use low-friction materials that simulate the low gravity of the moon. The students' 120lb robots must propel themselves around this field while towing a wheeled goal into which other robots and human players are trying to throw "moon rocks". This is all a recipe for bumps, collisions, and, well, lunacy. Check out the game animation below.

In addition to the game -- which is new every year -- teams are also navigating a new control system based on National Instruments cRIO architecture [previously]. The requirements for their drive train -- the use of low-friction wheels on a low-friction playing surface -- also present an exciting challenge for drive train design, as the systems used on past playing fields (usually carpet) don't really translate to "moon gravity." Teams are currently about halfway through their build seasons, about the time that they're firming up game-specific mechanism designs and building the basics of their chassis. Interested in the technical discussions that these talented high schoolers are having? Check out the unofficial FIRST forums, Chief Delphi.

Good luck from Automaton, teams!

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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