View Full Version : Sample University Proposal

02-04-2009, 05:16 PM
This is my WIP of a proposal to get my school to support competing in this competition. I submit it to you as a starting point for other students looking to participate.

Proposal for Competitive Robotic Team

What It Would Do: Participate in advanced robotics systems competitions as representatives of the university, particularly those involving embedded and/or autonomous systems.

Immediate Goals: The team will design, build, and program a biped robot to compete in RoboGames 2009 for the competition "Mech Warfare". The event takes place on June 12-14, 2009 in Fort Mason, San Francisco.

About "Mech Warfare": Mech Warfare is a new competition where machines are challenged to directly compete against each other. Unlike similar seeming competitions, like "Battlebots" and "Robot Wars", competitors are tasked with creating true robots that are at least capable of tele-operation or more ambitiously fully autonomous. While the physical machines will be around two feet tall, this is one of the most technically challenging competitions in robotics. Joining the competition at its founding is even more advantageous since our team will not be faced with overcoming incumbents with years of experience.

The Challenge: The challenge involves creating legged robots to participate in mock warfare at 1/24th scale. The pilots will only be able to directly view their robots through on-board cameras and sensors that transmit wirelessly to a remote computer. Autonomy is encouraged, with fly-by-wire schemes likely to be the best compromise. The "Airsoft" class that we will be competing in the first year is completely nondestructive, limited to plastic BB's and nerf style "rockets". The objective is to simply hit the other robot's score plate more times than it hits you. The hits are detected and tracked electronically.

Why Through the University: This competition requires skills and resources at least at the collegiate level. Students would develop advanced skills and practice working in a team. They would also develop relationships with professors from different departments through consulting them with particular challenges.

Educational Value: A "Mech" is a hugely multidisciplinary engineering challenge. Robotic biped locomotion is a difficulty of a university research projects. Robotic autonomy is also a research level challenge. To even build a functioning robot requires skills from different branches of the college. Mechanical engineering is needed to design the structure of the robot, especially the legs. Electrical engineering is needed to design circuits to process and control all the sensors and servos. Computer science is needed to program and interface with the robot. Aerospace engineering is used for air systems including projectile motion. All of these challenges must be overcome and integrated into one self-sufficient system.

Real Life Applications: The first year would focus on integrating already successful mapping, walking, and targeting controls into one system. However, continued competition will lead to the development of more advanced ideas, some of which could be technical achievements in their own rights. Robotic bipeds are research projects at universities due to the complexity of control. Many do not even have on-board controls and power like our robot will be required to have. Attempts to improve speeds of the robot could lead to more natural walking algorithms sophisticated enough to upscale to assist or replace human limbs. Furthermore, more and more of the robots functions will becoming autonomous; remove the BB gun and the robot may eventually be a platform for other tasks that would benefit from a legged, autonomous platform.

Long-Term Goals: If successful, the team should continue to compete in "Mech Warfare", including RoboGames 2010 and if the competition appears at other venues. If interest grows, this could be the foundation for a full group dedicated to robotic competition. This platform would be advanced enough to compete in other biped competitions. At RoboGames there are Kung Fu, autonomous soccer, and stair climbing events, just to name a few for bipeds. Finally, increased interests could lead to competing in more challenges with entirely different types of robots.

Note: Winning does not mean I am counting on coming in first, it means being highly competitive, say top 5%.

02-04-2009, 05:33 PM
Looks pretty good. You also might elaborate that the same robot could be used for multiple challenges at Robogames such as Kung Fu, autonomous soccer, stair climbing, and other various autonomous challenges. A platform as advanced as what we are specing for a mech has a wide use in many different robotic disciplines.

02-04-2009, 06:22 PM
My point was to elaborate on it in the Long Term Goals section.

02-04-2009, 06:56 PM
I'm done with it, but anyone is free to use it as an example to convince their own schools to enter.

02-04-2009, 07:06 PM
You're going to have someone do line-edits, right?

02-04-2009, 07:35 PM
Line edits? This is going to my adviser; he'll help me with tuning it to appeal to who approves it as well as verbally standing behind it. It is what it is now, a sample to encourage other university students to get involved. The sample can be edited to make it more useful as a sample, or I can simply delete it if no one sees a need for it.

02-04-2009, 07:37 PM
I think it provides a great starting point for others, thanks!

02-05-2009, 09:14 AM
EDIT: There was definately just a question here about how to rationalize the "warfare" part --- I've got no idea where it went.... but>

Ability to draw future DARPA funding? (one of the largest funding sources in robotics)
Congress's mandates for unmanned vehicles in the military?


02-05-2009, 09:29 AM
I got rid of it. Basically my school is uneasy about weapon development. Not sure why I decided to delete it actually... discuss away for others with similar problems.

I agree with you Inx, but my school doesn't.

02-05-2009, 09:42 AM
Well its not really weapon development unless you're going nuts with the Hardcore class... I mean you can compete using "toy" guns from walmart and call it at that. Focus on the robotics part of it, not the weaponry part.

02-05-2009, 09:49 AM
I thought I tried to *shrug*, the only mention is in the name and challenge section, which I tried to emphasize as parameters for a complex challenge.

And it doesn't matter that it could never be a weapon. It only matters that the game is to treat it like a weapon. Think of the early challenges of paintball and you kind of get the idea.