Moonbots 2.0 Challenge Team 364

           Raider Robotix has a strong history of building solid FRC robots that are simple, but at the same time innovative and efficient. Known for being a competitive team year after year, many of the FRC games that we have competed in have prepared us for and taught us lessons that we can use when designing and building a robot to accomplish the tasks given in the Moonbots 2.0 Challenge. Our trademark navigable and efficient drive train has guided us through tunnels and over bumps in 2010, climbed stairs in 2004, and maneuvered up ramps in the 2003 and 2006 games. Even more notably, our 2009 robot simulated driving on the moon’s regolith surface. With the knowledge of how to surmount these obstacles embedded in our team’s composition, the craters and ridges of the moon’s surface will prove to be no problem for Raider Robotix.

           While brainstorming the attributes necessary for a robot to be successful in the Moonbots competition, or on any real moon mission in general, our team recognized three key characteristics, and made sure to make these traits integral parts of our robot design. We deemed that for a robot to be effective, it needed to be simple, innovative and finally, rugged. It had to be simple so that it is not dominated by complicated mechanisms with many moving parts that stand a greater chance of experiencing failures and are harder to debug. It had to be innovative in that it has to use many simple elements in novel and clever ways to complete its tasks faster and more effectively than other designs. Finally, it had to be rugged, because in its mission on the moon, our robot will have to face many obstacles that pose a serious risk to the robot’s structural integrity. Thus, our robot, nicknamed the Tiki Bot, was conceived with these imperative characteristics in mind.

Two portions of our robot truly represent its simplicity…

  1. The Element Scooper:  Robots performing missions on the moon need a way to collect samples from the lunar surface. Mounted to the front of the robot’s frame, our robot will use a simple manipulator design to “scoop” the elements into the robot’s hopper. Using two simple fingers, jointly connected to a single NXT motor, the robot simply has to drive up to the elements and push the fingers through the elements to hook them. Following this, the robot will turn the single NXT motor controlling this manipulator to flip up the scooper and deposit the elements into the robot’s hopper for safe keepings. Care will be taken to ensure that the elements slide easily off of the fingers and into the hopper. Our robot will be able to successfully and easily harvest the water ice and Helium 3 from the moon’s surface, without the need for a large, unwieldy arm. Not only does this save motors for more important applications, but it also ensures that our design is as simple as possible, while still retaining a high degree of effectiveness. Being able to start in an upright position, the element scooper will contribute to our robot’s compact design. In order to innovate on this design, we may experiment with building a scooper with fingers long enough to collect the elements without having to enter the craters, thereby eliminating another piece of complexity.

  1. The Drive Train:  A lunar rover needs a drivetrain that will enable it to cross the moon’s rocky terrain without getting stuck. Following in the footsteps of past Raider Robotix robots, our robot will employ a simple, yet effective, tank drive system. Two NXT motors power the drive train, one for each side of the robot. Each motor will power two wheels on one side of the robot, both of which are placed towards the rear of the robot. This rear-wheel drive system will give our robot the power and maneuverability necessary to navigate the many obstacles on the moon’s surface. Moreover, the front of the robot will rest on a pair of skids, and the low friction that exists between the skids and the moon’s surface will give our robot the ability to turn on a dime. The powerful rear wheel drive will allow the robot to push the front skids up inclines and other obstacles.

Our robot’s ruggedness shows in its…


  1. Chassis Construction: Shaped like a triangle, the frame of our robot will naturally distribute the robot’s weight. With the hopper surrounding the apex of the triangle, the camera sitting on the front face near the lightweight scooper, and with the NXT controller on the rear face of the triangle, not only is the design strong, but the weight is also very balanced. Add to this the fact that the drive train is wider than the top portion of the robot, that the triangular shape allows the robot to cross the ridges and crater edges without getting stuck, and our robot is a rugged and maneuverable machine that can easily deal with all of the moon’s obstacles.

Although our robot is straightforward and simple, it is also elegant in its innovation…


  1. Use of sensors:  Our robot will make use of two distinct sensors to guide it around the moon’s terrain. First, in order to monitor and correct our robot’s orientation, a compass sensor will be used to make sure that our robot is always moving in the right direction, and that it is perfectly in line when it attempts to scoop up the minerals. Additionally, an ultrasonic sensor will be employed to ensure that our robot is always aware of its location with respect to the walls of the Moonbots field, and to also ensure that when it attempts to scoop up the minerals, it is always in the perfect location to do so. Both of these sensors will be used in conjunction with the rotation sensors built into the NXT motors for maximum precision.

  1. Triangular Shape: Based off of the strongest geometric structure, our robot will employ an innovative triangular design to improve weight distribution, lower its center of gravity, and increase its ability to surmount any obstacles in its path. Furthermore, coupled with its sensors and rear wheel drive, the triangular shape will help our robot to accurately pinpoint its heading as it approaches obstacles to complete mission objectives. This special shape will also inherently act as a plow, pushing lunar debris to either side of the robot as it plows over the moon’s landscape.

The judges should select our robot design because our proposal embodies a strong vision that will lead to a robust and winning robot. Though we incorporate prior knowledge and research into our design, we aim to innovate and build a machine that effectively achieves the Moonbots 2.0 challenge. We also understand that engineering is an iterative process and will learn along the way. We have a solid starting foundation and will continue to tweak our design until TikiBot is able to fully complete all of the mission objectives. Finally, we plan on showcasing the Moonbots project in our summer LEGO Robotics camp to spread the message of FIRST and inspire the younger members of our community as part of Raider Robotix’s STEM initiatives.


Robot Design Proposal

Time until Phase Two ends: