2014 FRC Challenge - Aerial Assist

For the Aerial Assist challenge, the team endeavored to design, build, program, and operate a robot that would catch and throw yoga balls to earn team points with its alliance members.  The robot featured an omni wheel drive system, which made it fast and maneuverable, as well as a pneumatic catapult for throwing the yoga balls.  The scoop for picking up the balls incorporated a custom circuit digital encoder with a 3D printed encoder wheel.


This year’s robot was designed to scoop up the balls from the floor using a forked probiscus that would also help to catch the ball, one of the bonus activities that could earn extra points for an alliance.

Pneumatic Launch

To pass the ball and launch it through the scoring target, the Fearsome Snail was equipped with a pneumatic cylinder that would “charge” a series of surgical tubing bands.  When released, the bands would catepult the ball towards it’s target.

Drive Train

For maximum maneuverability, the Fearsome Snail was built with omni-drive. Using a gyro, the robot was controlled in a field centric mode. The omniwheels were light and fast, speeding the robot across the field.

Arbitrary Digital Encoder

To know the position of the ball scoop, we created a custom circuit and 3D printed an indexing encoder wheel  mounted on the scoop. As the light and dark bands passed over the sensors of the circuit, the encoder would register changes in position.


This was the last year of using the C-RIO and Jaguar motor controllers. We continued using the distributed network layout and 2CAN system for motor feedback. We started using powerpoles for reliable connections.

Custom Hubs

To best fit the hubs with the omniwheels and reinforce their connection for a game that was anticipated to be pretty high impact, we designed and printed spacers. These spacers encompassed the aluminum hubs, supporting the full width of the omniwheels


The robot was programmed to autonomously advance and launch the ball at the target. The dashboard featured an image of the robot, displaying pending control inputs in an attempt to prevent oversteering.

Rounded Body

To be maneuverable and avoid pinning by competitiors, the robot was created to be elliptical, which required rounded bumpers.  The team created their own plywood to match the shape of the robot.

The Cyber Penguins in Action

Including Build Season and Competitions