1999 Engineering Open House Competition
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Winner of Demolition Championship
Winner of Most Impressive Arsenal Award
Type: Search/Combat Robot
Weight: 100 lbs
Body: Aluminum Frame
Power: 700 RPM 9V Motors
Control: Plane RC controller
Speed: 700 rpm
Weapons: Crossbow, Saw Blades
Other:Robot Arm

Competition:UIUC Engineering Open House
Year: 1999
Results: Winner of Most Impressive Arsenal, Winner of Demolition Championship

Participants and History
Team Astro was comprised of Aaron Trask and Mariusz Zaczek. The name Sphere was chosen to throw off other competitors who might think the vehicle was spherical - it worked.

Competition Description
The actual competition took place in March 1999. This design competition is open to many schools from around the midwest area and typically involves over 30 different teams. While many teams simply use slightly modified RC cars, there are a few completely designed and built vehicles. The design competition is sponsored by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and typically draws the largest crowds during the Engineering Open House.

For this year's competition the vehicle was tasked to maneuver a mine field represented by various cylinders. Once passed, the vehicle had to climb an inclune until it reached the summit and a spinning table. The vehicle must leave the spinning table to be able to proceed out to the next part of the course. Once passed, the vehicle had to trigegr trap doors and find a sphere...this sphere must be picked up and placed into a recepticle. The winner would achieve this in the shortest amount of time.

Vehicle Description
The vehicle built for this competition used 9V drills as the drive motors. These were connected via a chain drive designed by Aaron Trask. The wheels of this vehicle were 10 inch toy bicycle wheels and were chosen because of their good grip capability. A front mounted robotic arm was manufactured to act as the scoop for the sphere/ball at the end of the course.

For the demolition rounds, the vehicle upgraded with several weapons, in addition to the existing robotic arm. These extra weapons included a set of rear mounted saw blades powered by another 9V drill motor, and a side mounted crossbow. Due to the safety issue with a crossbow, the actual arrow was tethered to the vehicle via aircraft wire...it was definitely menacing. Many of the other contestants opposed our use of a crossbow and due to this fear, many reinforced their vehicles with metal plates to protect their electronics....the arrow was fired a couple of times, but the vertical saw blades did much more damage.

Control System
The control system for this vehicle was very low tech...due to difficulties in building our own control system, we resorted to using a standard airplane RC radio controller and receivers system. We had descent control but not as much as we'd like.

Competition Results
Though we did not win the regular rounds of the competition this vehicle was awarded the Most Impressive Arsenal Award and went on to win the Demolition Championship. The robot arm pinned several competitors and the vertical saw blades damaged a few cards...sparks were definitely flying.

This robotic vehicle was completely designed and built by Aaron Trask and Mariusz Zaczek.
Aaron was in charge of the mechanical systems which included the design and construction of the vehicle body, mounting the motors, building the arm and gripper, mounting the weaponry. Mariusz assisted and also worked on the control system...though with little success.

We'd like to express our deepest thanks to the following people and organizations

Click pictures on side