AffiliationUniversity of Southern Indiana
TitleThe Creation of Battle Bots: iRobot Roomba Conversion
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The purpose of this project was to provide an opportunity for the seniors in the USI/NSWC Crane technician-to-engineer cohort to work in a small team setting and manage to completion, a project tasking of creating user controlled, battle type robots from an iRobot Roomba Vacuum platform. This project covered a wide variety of aspects including the design, construction, modification, and programming of the battle-bot. The ten members of the cohort were split in two, five member teams that were required to create at least one battle-bot per team. The bots would have to pass a speed test and a maneuverability test as required by the rules set forth by USI. After passing qualifying tests, both teams would battle in a three round main event, until a team’s bot expires or the three rounds end. The teams will be judged on the overall design, creativity, quality, and competition results.
Early in the process, “DOOMBA” was decided as a team name. The name represents the roots of an iRobot Roomba vacuum system and the certain doom that would be brought to the bot’s opponents. With many tasks and a variety of areas from programming, frame construction, assembly, lab tests, interfacing, and proper teamwork, communication was vital to the success of the project. Our team quickly setup a file share drive, text chain, weekly electronic conferences and secured a workshop facility to utilize in the battle bot development. The team originally focused on creating a single battle-bot due to worries of budget constraints. Once budgetary requirements for a bot were calculated, it became evident that a secondary bot was financially feasible. Discussion then ensued about offensive weaponry and defensive tactics the bots should have. The team quickly decided that the two bots should have different weaponry and exterior makeup. This decision was driven in order to diversify skills and risks. If a bot’s weapons were ineffective against the opponent, the hope would be that the second bot would have a more effective set of attack. Defensively, if one of the bots were susceptible to the opposing team’s bot, then possibly the second bot would be less affected by their weaponry and mode of attack. The process began with the team studying champion level bots frequently seen on the television series Battle-Bots, along with You-Tube videos. After much thought and brainstorming ideas, it was decided to go with a wedge style bot (this became DOOMBA Dozer) and a second bot with spinning blades (this became DOOMBA Saw). The wedge style bot would be constructed of heavy material and its offense would be ramming or pushing the opponent. The defense would be the iii capability of taking repeated hits with heavy construction. The spinning blade bot offense would focus on hitting or cutting the opponents housing. The defense would be agility, due to the lighter weight construction.
Through various question and answer sessions with the team’s advisor Dr. Brandon Field, it was determined that using the original wheel assemblies of the Roomba platform, was sufficient enough to be considered a “Roomba Platform”. The body and other components were not a criterion for the project, thus providing a large amount of freedom with respect to restrictions on the bot’s construction and makeup. Work began with scrapping the internals of the Roomba and replacing the electronics with an Arduino focused on controlling payload and another Arduino focused on controlling wheel motor speed and direction for each bot. A reduced C\C+ language was used to program the Arduino Uno’s. The Uno’s were used to control the weapons and steering capabilities for DOOMBA Saw as well as DOOMA Dozer. Once the programming proved functional with all components integrated, the housing design process was initiated. At that time, the team made the decision to split into two teams. One team made up of three working on the Dozer and the other team made up of two people working on the Saw. This was enacted with the understanding that all personnel’s skill sets and capabilities were available to both subgroups at any time, to assist in completion of tasks. In the end, team DOOMBA created two different battlebots named “DOOMBA Dozer” and “DOOMBA Saw”.