For the 2017 build season, the RoboCats moved to their new home the Factory of the Future at Swinburne University in Hawthorn. We began the build season with a talk on Occupational Health and Safety going through all the risks that could take place and where to go if something goes wrong.

After going through the safety talk, we watched the robotic challenge video. The challenge for this year’s competition was Steam Works based on the Steam Punk genre. In the challenge there were three essential challenges: you could either get fuel, gears or climb the rope. The RoboCats decided to grab the gears and take it back to the airship on the field. For this part of the challenge the robot will drive a gear up to the peg then the people in the airship will pull it up. We also focused on the climbing mechanism that would pull the robot up in the last thirty seconds of the challenge.

You can watch the video here:

The actual competition contained boilers, hoppers, gears, fuel, ropes, airship, people, alliances and robots. For each round of competition there are two alliances red and blue with three robots in each alliance. When the buzzer starts, the first 15 seconds are autonomous meaning the robot has to have been programed to move in a particular way. Once another buzzer goes the drivers may step up to the joystick. Drivers then speed around to get gears and fuel. Once there are 30 seconds left the robots drive to the airship where the ropes will be lowered so that the robots climb the rope and the airship takes off. The alliance with the most points wins.

Over the summer holidays, we spent our days tinkering and working on the robot. We started with drawings of our ideas on paper. We then started building the prototypes out of cardboard finding out which one was better. Once we had started to build the robot, we had to overcome some obstacles and use our time wisely to be able to complete it.

After six weeks, we finished building our robot. We had a lock up party; this is where we lock the robot up until we go to Sydney. After a couple of weeks, it was finally time to go to Sydney. Once we arrived at Sydney, we started the practice games, getting to know the field. On the Friday, we started our qualification matches, which lasted the whole day. We continued the qualification matches on the Saturday, finishing in the middle of the rankings. The Robocats waited to see if they could make the finals. After being invited into an alliance with the Barker Red backs and Thunder Down Under, we won the grand final and could advance to Houston as a part of the winning alliance of the South Pacific Region.