The Thunderbots mechanical team works to create and improve our physical team of robots. To use the analogy of a human soccer team, the mechanical team’s task is to make better soccer players. That is, players with higher levels of individual skill that can be used together to form a strong team. Several of the skills essential to human soccer players such as agility, speed, ball handling, and shooting/passing power and accuracy are also important to robot soccer and are elements of our robots that we are trying to build and improve.
The sub-team is composed of students from mechanical engineering, integrated engineering, engineering physics, and any other UBC student excited by robot soccer. We strive to create an environment for all our members to constantly improve and acquire new skills. Junior mechatronics members gain experience through training, introductory new-members challenges, and working on projects with a senior member. These projects give new members exposure to our robots and the opportunity to learn about our robots to enable them to lead their own projects in the future.
The team meets weekly to discuss potential improvements to the robots, update others on project progress, and test features that are in development. As members complete projects, they also develop tests that, if passed, demonstrate the project meets it's specifications and improves the robots.
The team has developed the entire robot design from scratch over its 9 year history. We continually evaluate the performance of the current fleet of robots and develop new prototype robots that lead to better results at RoboCup. Currently, the team is working on projects in the following areas: developing a more sophisticated control system and redistributing the robot’s mass to improve agility, upgrading the radio protocol used to communicate between the robots and the software team’s AI, creating a more powerful and rugged drivetrain, redesigning the chipping and kicking mechanism to be more space-efficient, and implementing a more reliable ball-detection system. Additionally, creating and maintaining detailed documentation is essential to the continual existence and growth of the team.