Design Strategy

-= Minimizing Effort =-

According to the assigned project there were to be two versions of the soccer playing robot, version 1.0 and version 2.0. From what the team understood of the project version 2.0 was a more advanced and enhanced model of version 1.0. As such the strategy from the begining was to focus on building and developing version 2.0 - as it could perform the same tasks as version 1.0 within a subset of its own more advanced behaviour.

The first step to the robot designing process was to define the major function, or functions, that it would have to perform. Obviously, getting a variable speed ball into a small net from a distance is not a complex idea for the human mind, but in terms of a control system it gets a little bit more complex. One method to deal with this complexity is to divide the robot into its functional systems and determin the type of the control system applicable to each of these components. These systems include the ramp, which accelerated the ball and measured its speed and the cart which kicked the ball into the goal.

Open loop control allows the robot to respond to a simple input with a simple response. It was clear to the team that an open loop only control system would not work for our purposes. There would have to be a system in the robot which provided feedback on the robots performance. Basically if the output will not have any corrective effect on robots behaviour then only if the team gets the robot perfect the first time will it work at all. However, if as many functions as possible can be delt with by open loop controllers then that would minimize the required effort.

A closed loop control mechanism would allow the robot to make decisions about its behaviour based on the changes it has effected on its environment. Whether the closed loop control mechansm would be a compontent of the hardware, software or design process was not particullarly important to the team at the beginning. However, it was noted that by taking an iterative approach to tweeking the robot's behaviour through a series of tests and modifications the team would effectivly be moving the most difficult closed loop control off of the robot and into its own hands.