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Summary of ABU Robot Contest at Hong Kong aug 2012

2008 after national presentation

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Robocon 2012 Mechanical Report

Manual Robot

When the theme came in September, the main challenge was to make a machine that can take not only the load of a man but also of the collector machine dynamically.
Now the motor was safe to experiment with. Now the next challenge in front of us was the motor which could deliver the power required to move a Man and the machine as fast as we can. The first thing that came into mind was to use 150W DC motor which we usually call as badi motor and it worked. Then came the steering option either to do it manually or electronically. The manual steering was chosen so that to have more control over the BOT.

Design prototypes:

When we first made a prototype of the Manual as shown in the PICTURE, the problem we had was of the steering, the wheel slipped while taking turns as there was less load on it. So as to overcome this problem we used the manual operators weight and shifted one third weight of the operator on the wheel steering it and rest two third was on the driving wheels. This was the second prototype.
Also on making this newer design we thought of a way to decrease the turning radius of the manual robot in order to give it better & easier handling while navigating through obstacles all over the field. This was achieved by making the frame smaller in length as shown. In this way the third prototype was made & slowly by some more modifications, the design was made final.





Robocon 2012 presented a challenging new theme that had a whole new level of difficulty. Three robots were supposed to be made that performed a series of tasks some of which included an operator riding a robot and maneuvering it, one machine carrying the other over a bridge, a machine climbing up a step etc.

Automatic robot was one of the three that were supposed to be made for the contest. It was the connecting link between the other two bots; the manual and the collector.

This automatic robot had to perform a series of tasks some of which included:

  • Lifting the basket from the common zone.
  • Placing the basket in the manual zone.
  • Clamping the collector and carrying it over the bridge.
  • Safely unloading the collector.

There were many problems faced during the process of designing and fabrication of the automatic robot.

Some of the major design challenges faced by the mechanical team were as follows:

  • Building a robot which could pick up the basket faster than the opponents.
  • Designing the robot within the weight constraints.
  • Designing the bots such that it could unload the collector bot without touching the loading area.
  • The bot was supposed to ascend and descend a ramp of an inclination of about 17 degrees with another robot so the design was supposed to have a low centre of gravity and at the same time navigate over the bridge with ease.
  • The design was supposed to be very robust.

With all these design constraints into consideration the mechanical team set out to build the Automatic robot which later crowned as the best three robots in the nation.


  • When the Token is totally put inside the Token Box, motion of Automatic Robot can be self started or started by “one push button” by a team member after the signal from referees. Automatic Robot may start picking up the Basket in the Common Zone and puts it in any place of Manual Robot Zone. Or, Automatic Robot may start later as the strategy of the team. The task of putting the Basket in Manual Robot Zone will be considered as “Completed” when the Basket is put in Manual Robot Zone and is standing on its own on its bottom base; it means there is no contact between the Basket and neither Automatic Robot nor Manual Robot.
  • Automatic Robot of each team is allowed to touch only one of the two Baskets in the Common Zone and a team can only pick up the same Basket which they have touched before and if it is available.
  • When Collector Robot is completely separated from Manual Robot and transferred to Automatic Robot, motion of Automatic Robot can be self started or be started by a team member by “one push button”. There is no rule to guide the sequence for Automatic Robot to pick up the Basket and the Collector Robot. The team can pick up both items simultaneously.
  • Automatic Robot carries Collector Robot across the Bridge towards Collector Robot Loading Area 2 or Loading Area 3.
  • After transferring Collector Robot to Automatic Robot, Manual Robot is allowed to pick up the Basket when it is placed in Manual Robot Zone and puts the Basket in the Basket Area on the Island. When the Basket was placed at the Basket Area, no robot is allowed to touch the Basket.
  • Automatic Robot must unload Collector Robot inside Loading Area 2


In order to fulfill this task the mech team thought of various designs in stages eventually finalizing on one of them.

Three of the many designs that were implemented and tested were as given below:


This was the first prototype of the automatic robot. It could perform the basic tasks of the automatic robot. A 3D drawing of this frame is given below for better understanding.

The actual design of this prototype was as follows:


    • The base frame of this machine was one of the smallest frames.
    • The dimensions of the base frame were 40cm x 40cm x 20cm.
    • The machine was designed keeping into consideration that machine had to carry a load of almost 10 kgs along with its self weight so it was also very sturdy.
    • The base frame was an ‘I’ shaped frame with another box frame on top joined by an array of supporting sections.
    • This platform was kept at a maximum height of 20cm keeping in mind that the machine had to unload the collector at the loading area which was of that dimension.
    • The design being very compact sturdy and lightweight it was also one of the quickest reaching to the basket on almost 1 second.
  • JAW:
    • The distinguishing feature of this jaw was that it lifted the basket with its pole.
    • This jaw was made such that it could pull the basket partially inside the frame for better stability while maneuvering along with the basket.
    • It made use of a piston for gripping purpose.
    • Linear rails and guideways were used to draw the gripping mechanism in and out of the frame.
    • Another piston mounted diagonally was used to lift the basket from its groove.
  •  The main problem with this assembly was that it was due to its compactness it was unable to navigate on the ramp along with the collector robot very efficiently.
  • Moreover with the front jaw assembly it had to navigate a lot more than the current design.

Due to this very fact that this design wasn’t able to navigate on the bridge very efficiently it was discarded.

To overcome the problems faced in the previous design this design was made bigger.

An actual picture of this design is as presented below.


    • The base frame of this design had the dimensions of 58cm x 55cm x 20cm.
    • Here too as we see that the height was kept at 20cm as earlier.
    • Special attention was paid for the electronics mounting in this frame.
    • The weight distribution was more equitable and favorable for navigation on the bridge.
    • This design could navigate with greater weight with more ease.
    • The best part of this design was that it could complete the bridge navigation part within 10 seconds (this is a record time within the lab)

This picture shows the automatic bot and the collector bot both on the ramp for the first time.

  • JAW:
    • The jaw assembly of this design was a little different.
    • It consisted of two parts the supporting jaw and the gripper.
    • The supporting jaw supported the basket from the base and the gripper held it from its pole.
    • This gripper assembly slid out from the frame.
    • This assembly could come in and out of the frame by means of a rail guide assembly and the actuation was achieved by means of a rack and pinion.

A picture of this assembly is shown below for better understanding

    • This machine was tried for a long time as it seemed nearly perfect for navigation over the ramp.
    • But even this machine posed a lot of problems.
    • The biggest problem of this machine was that because of its huge base frame its momentum would swing on either side of its centre before it could take corrections to keep it on track.
    • With rigorous testing we concluded that we could not control this machine’s speed within a particular point.
    • This was disadvantageous as we had to grab the first basket to save time.
    • Thus after months of testing this machine was discarded due to all these reasons.

Finally we came up with a third design which was a compromise between both the small and the big versions of the AUTO.



This design had an array of changes as compared to the earlier designs.

Some of the distinguishing features this design was that its ground clearance was variable and adjusted such that it could navigate over the ramp with ease.

Some of the salient features of this design are as follows:


  • The base frame of this design was very different.
  • Its base was kept at an angle with the ground instead of keeping it parallel to the ground.
  • Also this was the first time that the motors were mounted inverted with respect to the frame.

The 3D drawing below amply illustrates the base frame at an angle

The figure below shows motors’ inverted mounting


  • The jaw assembly in this design was much improved than the previous two designs.
  • We were able to drop the basket without the use of an independent gripper as in the earlier designs.
  • This also gave MIT a unique tag that we threw the basket as our placing almost seemed like throwing.
  • With this jaw mechanism we were able to achieve the perfect blend amongst the earlier two designs.
  • MIT had a distinguished honour of having the least basket grabbing time.

        The figure below gives a detailed explanation of the jaw assembly. 


  • Various factors were considered while designing this prototype.
  • The most important consideration was that of the CG of the machine as the CG played a very important role in maneuvering of the machine.

The 3D design of the calculations of the CG for the AUTO

  • An important part of the designing was constructing a 3D design of the entire machine so as to have a better understanding of the machine.

  The 3D design of the AUTO made in catia.

  • The design finally chosen was rigorously tested for two months before it was finalized for being used in the competition.
  • As many as 300 complete test runs of the machine were taken before it was finalized.


The Task:

The collector robot was the second autonomous robot in this theme. The main task of collector robot was picking up the buns from the bun tower and placing them in the basket. Also the strategy demanded the collector robot to climb a 20cm step to climb on the Island where the Bun tower stood. This machine was to be picked by the Manual machine from its Start Zone and placed on the Automatic Machine. The Automatic Robot then carried the Collector from the Automatic Start Zone to the Loading area L2 by passing over The Bridge (Ramp).

There was an alternate strategy possible wherein the Automatic Robot could unload the Collector Robot at Loading Area L3 by maneuvering around the obstacle in the Automatic Zone.  For this strategy, the Collector Robot wouldn’t need to climb the step as the Manual Robot could place it directly on the Island. However that strategy wasn’t used by MIT as it required more navigation for the Automatic Robot and also the Step Climbing strategy was faster.

On the Island, it must pick one bun each from the lower layer and the middle layer and put them in the Basket placed in the basket area of the Island. Only after this is completed, the Manual must pick up the Collector which can then pick up the bun placed on the Top Layer of the Bun Tower. Once this bun was dropped in the basket, the game will get over and the team has achieved “Peng On Dai Gat”.

As this machine was supposed to be carried by both the Manual as well as Automatic Robots, our main aim was to make this machine as robust and as light as possible. Any change in this machine’s structural design directly affected the dynamics of the other two machines. Along with the weight limitation, the machine had to be sufficiently robust so that it could be picked, carried, transferred with sufficient ease and not being affected by slight rough handling.

The Structure:

The main frame of the robot consisted of a T-shaped base frame which was developed in Robocon 2011. The Robot used front wheel drive i.e. the driving wheels were in front of the Robot. On the base frame a central pole was mounted which was almost one meter long. On this central pole the provision for being picked up by the manual robot, place of electronics mounting and the jaws assembly was mounted.

The Manual and Automatic Robots used electromagnets for clamping the Collector and a forklift to support its weight. So an electromagnetic counter was mounted on the back for the Automatic Robot and one on the central pole for the Manual Robot.

The Mechanisms:

  1. Step Climbing

The remarkable mechanism of the Collector Robot was the Step Climbing mechanism. It could climb the 20cm step in motion, quickly without stopping at any instant. The Team tried out 4 different step climbing mechanism in the first 2 days and finally the best mechanism was selected. The mechanism consisted of two folding legs on which the main frame stood; these legs would fold while climbing the step and the machine would then rest on the main driving structure.

For the national event, the legs were mounted on normal hinges which had spring (these hinges are used in cupboards, etc). These hinges fold immediately when they hit the step. Thus the impact with the step folded the hinges and the machine moved forward. The main difficulty was in finding the right hinges. After significant market research we got the hinges of our requirement. Hinges of 3 different manufacturers (Alaska, H’afel and Holz) were used. The hinges needed to be sufficiently rigid to avoid the folding of the legs before reaching the step and also to withstand the impact of hitting the step.

Collector Robot

For the international event, the mechanism was modified. Instead of folding the legs by impact, the legs were folded by pneumatic pistons. Two proximity sensors detected the distance from the step and folded the legs at the appropriate time. This allowed us to increase the speed of the collector on the loading area and also provided more rigidity and stability.

1. The Jaws

There were three jaws which picked up two buns from the lower layer (another unique strategy adopted by the Team) and one bun from the middle layer and dropped it in the basket. The buns were placed on studs of 4cm height so they needed to be raised by at least that height to clear the studs. The jaws were mounted on a rail which allowed vertical motion. The raising was done by pneumatic piston. The buns in the lower layer were at a height of 50cm while the basket had a height of 80cm so the lower layer buns needed to be raised further. This was achieved by rotating the two jaws by servo motor so that the buns were raised above that height.

Pro E design for the jaw

The gripping mechanism used this year was newly developed by using pneumatics. The pneumatic actuation provided sufficient gripping force along with quick actuation. Earlier motors were used in grippers but motor had a few disadvantages – a motor of high rpm didn’t have sufficient torque whereas a motor having sufficient torque didn’t have high speed.

The mechanism used for the international was modified further. In the national event, the jaws were unable to grip the buns properly sometimes. To overcome this, the jaw design was modified to provide better gripping and more tolerance.

Robocon 2011 Report

Robocon is an international tournament based on robotics, with individual domestic

contests in each of its participating countries from Asia. The MIT Tech Team was formed in
2005 to represent MIT in the national Robocon. Since then, the team has shown tremendous
MIT was the finalist in 2008, and also the only team to complete the theme three times.
In 2010, MIT won the National Robocon resoundingly, competing against premier teams such as
IIT- Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIt-Madras, VIT, NIRMA Institute etc. Thus far, MIT has represented
India in the International Robocon twice.
Our performance in Robocon 2011 was also strong, but due to some unforeseen errors in
the power circuitry, we could only reach up to the semifinals. However, preparations are now on
in earnest for Robocon 2012 under the able guidance of Prof S.G. Kulkarni and Prof
S.R.Yeolekar. The sources of inspiration for the team are Prof V.D. Karad sir, Prof P.B. Joshi sir
(our mentor) and Prof G.N. Mulay sir.

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