FIRST This Year and WHEGS(TM): The Wheel-Legs Inspired by Cockroaches
by Rosalie Phillips
Hello, all! As of January 9, 2016 the Hathaway Brown Robotics team 2399, the Fighting Unicorns, has been meeting Monday-Friday 6pm-9pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, and Sunday 1pm-6pm. If you are unaware, every year FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) releases a game that challenges high schoolers to build full-sized robots in 6 weeks. This year the theme is medieval and the game is Stronghold. Robots must traverse obstacles and fire dodgeballs at their enemy’s tower to gain points!
Due to the nature of the terrain in the game our team knew we would need a custom drive train to meet this task. We researched several different types of wheels and one stood out: WHEGSTM. WHEGSTM (the trademark is held by CWRU) are wheels made out of legs and programmed to move like cockroaches. When cockroaches walk, they use a tripod gate, meaning three of its legs are always touching the ground. However, when a cockroach encounters an obstacle, its legs work in tandem to get enough power to pass the obstacle.
The wheels on our robot this year use a similar method as a cockroach climbing up an obstacle. Each wheel is made up 3 smaller wheels. When on even ground there are 8 wheels touching the ground each is individually turning, driven by chain. However, when the wheels hit an obstacle they stall and all three wheels of the larger wheel turn as one unit together to overcome the obstacle. Our wheels have gone through three generations of design to reach what you can see below!
This has been a crazy build season with lots of adventures and stories, expect more news to come!!