Part 3 of 3: Automated Launching, Effects of Compression, Unaccounted Energy Transfer, and a Discussion on Models for Robotics

Links to earlier parts in series:

In parts 1 and 2 we discussed the design of our robotic shooter for the 2021 FIRST high school robotics challenge and explained how we used a physics-based trajectory generator to determine what velocity and angle we must launch the ball at to score into the middle of the scoring target accurately and consistently. Our python simulator allowed us to then create a table of values of what we need to set our motor speed and angle to based on a distance we set.

In part 3, we will first discuss how we implemented…

Proof that the execution of a plan is everything

Authored by: Ayaan Haque, Adithya Peruvemba, Sajiv Shah, and Viraaj Reddi, 4 rising juniors at Saratoga High.

Four bored high school teenagers in quarantine. A competition with a $300 prize. The result? A lesson learned. Two months ago, we began a project that picked up steam and became a state-sweeping solution — or so we thought. The last 8 weeks is best characterized as a roller coaster and ultimately became a defining experience for all of us.

An Inspiration

A month after joining the Zoom Class of 2022, we were all losing our minds. The consistent grind of school had been ripped…

An overview of a recent paper on a novel simplistic variable-stiffness actuator design for legged robots

Image of our legged robot platform for experimentation, by author

This article is an overview of the motivation and work presented in the recent work “SiMPLeR: A Series-Elastic Manipulator with Passive Variable Stiffness for Legged Robots” which details the design of a variable stiffness actuator and its application to a legged robot platform. This paper will be presented at the IEEE CACRE 2021 conference. The focus of this article will be the reason why such an actuator is necessary for robots, and why it has been a large goal for researchers over the past decade to design methods for robotic joints to exhibit behaviors similar to animal muscle pairs.


Elastic Joints


Part 2 of 3: Optimizing Trajectories and Comparing Actual Data

Link to part 1:

Long Shot Slow-Motion, Gif by Author

After creating a working algorithm to simulate our trajectories, we need to determine what parameter we should optimize the trajectory for. Because many different combinations of velocity and angle result in a “score” from a singular distance, we have many options. Using that data, we then need to test our actual prototype and analyze the errors and inaccuracies.

Trajectory Optimization

A. Power

When determining what factors to optimize our trajectories for, an obvious one that comes to mind is power. Our robots run off a lead-acid battery, and after about 3 minutes of running the robot at an…

Part 1 of 3: Criteria, Shooter Dynamics and Kinematics, and the Simulation Algorithm

Team 649’s 2021 Robot, “Guppy”. Image by Author

The FIRST Robotics Challenge is an international robotics competition that over 500,000 high school students compete in yearly. Each year, a challenge is released and teams create robots to compete in randomly matched 3 v 3 games. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season has no in-person gameplay but rather has a set of at-home challenges, two of which are centered around launching 7-inch foam balls into an 8 foot-tall target from different distances, and in a given time frame.

While many teams design and create mechanisms through iterative prototyping, what often sets high-performing teams apart is their application…

The basic physics behind the Intermediate axis theorem.

If you are reading this on your phone, have one near you, or have a tennis racket with you, flip it 4–5 times as shown below, trying to rotate it perfectly about its horizontal axis and catching it at the edge or the handle.

Understanding the output of an IMU or accelerometer

In a session of a course I am taking on making small satellites, or CubeSat’s, we were briefly told about the IMU (Inertial measurement unit) our CubeSat’s might use, which is an Adafruit breakout board. These IMU’s feature a very important component for any spacecraft, which is an accelerometer. Everything from the phone in your pocket to your Camera Drone has one of these suckers, and although they appear simple, there feature some interesting quirks.

Here’s how an online source (linked below) defines an accelerometer:

“An accelerometer is a device that measures acceleration, which is the change in an object’s…

The important facts about the June 30th launch, all in one article

The Falcon 9 launching at 4:10 PM EST on June 30th || Image credits to SpaceX

A couple of days ago, SpaceX launched a series of GPS satellites for the Space Force. If you want to know more details about the launch, or are looking to know enough to add to a conversation at the dinner table, you’ve come to the right place.

Space Force and GPS III

The Recent mission was contracted by the United States Space Force, which is a new organization as of December 2019 that aims to protect the United States’ Space interests. This launch was the first launch SpaceX has done for the Space Force, but SpaceX has launched GPS satellites prior to this mission.


The Millionaire Day-Trader that now controls the stock market

“There’s nobody who can argue that Warren Buffett is better at the stock market than I am right now. I’m better than he is. That’s a fact.” — Dave Portnoy

If you live somewhere under a rock, you wouldn’t know that the Stock Market has become a completely unpredictable shitshow. Even the investing giants — like Warren Buffet, are losing as the market was following a downtrend after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now — even after the new announcement that 12 states hit daily records in new cases, the market reaches new highs.

What is going on?

Well, for one thing, 16 year-olds like…

A story about how I think I’m a better engineer than I really am.

This is the Makr Shakr. Its a set of robotic arms that make and shake drinks that people can order on their phones. When my brother came across a youtube video in August of 2019 displaying the many features of these bartenders, he reeled me into the idea of making our own version.

Here’s a little background from around the time this project started: I had been making remote-controlled airplanes from foamboard, racing drones from kits, and robots from LEGO kits. I had then joined my high school’s FIRST robotics club and participated in the FIRST robotics challenge. It was…

Sajiv Shah

A robotics and economics enthusiast || Junior at Saratoga high school || Writer @ Towards Data Science

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