You never realize how much time and effort it takes to
build a robot from scratch. Even just a simple curved bracket has to be measured, cut to size, marked, center
punched, drilled out, bent into a precise curve, re-drilled to
ensure the hole didn't shrink, and tapped so it will thread.
It's very easy to overlook the details of a specific component and greatly misjudge how long it will take to fabricate.
Since every little bit takes so much work, it's very important
that you delegate.
Lesson 3: Delegate!
The delegation of work is a key to success beyond the
world of robots — in whatever you do, it's important to
make sure that when there's work to do, everybody is contributing as much as possible. One of the great things
about working with friends in a team environment is that
since you're all working towards a big success, you get to
boss each other around! When we were in the machine
shop, I was king. When we were at Joe's home shop, he
was lord of the land, and when we were working with
LEGOs, Jason was the guy to answer to. All three of us
understood the arrangement, and because of it we were
able to delegate tasks effectively.
This ability to delegate helped us immensely — both
before and during the competition. Joe was in charge of
catering for the RoboGames Builder’s Party, so was occupied by that most of the competition. This left me in charge
of the ComBot, and Jason in charge of the LEGO entries. I
can't stress enough how much delegation helped us, and
how much potential it has to make or break a team. In fact,
arguably our biggest failures at RoboGames were because
we didn't delegate.
Lesson 4: Know the
One of those little things that is easy to keep putting
off, but ultimately somebody needs to take responsibility for
is knowing the event and distributing that information to
the team members. In our case, we made the assumption
that one glance at the event schedule would be all the
information we needed — this was very far from reality. It
was a mad rush at the competition for us to get set up at
two different pit tables (one for ComBots and one for
everything else), and get our bots checked in.
It was also assumed by everyone on our team (myself
included) that I knew everything we needed to know about
competing. The fact was we had four entries that were
100% operational that didn't actually compete because they
didn't get checked in at the right time, or nobody took
them to the area of the competition. It was mostly a case
of too much to do in too little time. We should have
planned ahead to delegate these responsibilities at the
event. Having only five of nine entries competing certainly
frustrated the team a bit, and added to the stress of the
event. Despite that frustration, we kept on trucking because
we realized that there were better things to do than argue
Lesson 5: Accept the ref's
During one fight of our ComBot, I was certain I won. I
outdrove, outpowered, and got underneath my opponent
to drive him across the arena. When the judges turned in
their decision, though, I had lost. The thought briefly
flashed into my mind that I should dispute the decision — I
was so sure I had won! I realized, though, that arguing
would be unproductive, and so I contained my frustration
and accepted the loss with good sportsmanship.
During RoboGames 2010, we met lots of people with
lots of ideas about robots. Some of the ideas were awesome, and some of them less so, but all of them valid and
interesting. We had some very stimulating conversations
with some very interesting people, and learned a lot.
Lesson 6: Learn from
This is another one of those ideas that can help you in
more than just robotics — you can (and should!) learn from
everything. Not only should you gain insight and knowledge
from your accomplishments, you should also learn from
your mistakes — and the accomplishments and mistakes of
others. We got some great ideas for future robots, and
shared some of our own, as well!
Six weeks of building, programming, and tinkering
later, all our hard work came to culmination at the world's
biggest robotics competition. We brought three team members, four robots, and five entries to RoboGames 2010, and
took home an unforgettable experience.
After all was said and done, Tesla Prime took home
medals in three different events, bringing home a total of
one gold, one silver, and one bronze. Everyone learned a
lot, and you can bet we'll be back next year with bigger,
badder, and bolder entries for RoboGames 2011! SV
It’s amazing what you can stuff in a
trunk for a road tip to RoboGames ...
SERVO 07.2010 37