Therrell High School, Atlanta

Panthera Robotica

In early 2007, I helped some students at Therrell High School build a robot (Panthera Robotica) for the US FIRST Competition. This competition seeks to enhance the education of high school students by encouraging them to undertake a very difficult project involving both engineering and project management issues, and to inspire the students to consider a science or engineering career.
Our chassis before adding the fancy stuff.
Each team gets a kit with all kinds of motors, wheels, electronics, pneumatic components, and other functional stuff, as well as just enough structural components to build a wheeled base for the robot. In this photo, the students have built the base, added motors, gearboxes, bicycle chains, and wheels, and are starting to add in a rudimentary electrical system.
Dana and Jason demonstrate camera tracking target to Ms Manual.
To develop the robot's control software before the robot was built, we used the previous year's robot. Here, Dana and Jason demonstrate camera tracking target to Mrs. Manuel. They have mounted a video camera with a yaw and pitch gimbal to the old robot and they have programmed it to locate the green light on the rack in the background and then navigate the robot to the light without human intervention. Scoring in the contest involves hanging inner tubes over the circles on the rack, and lifting other robots off the ground.
Lenox, Ms Manual and Donovan discuss Parking Platform Mockup.
The team must develop plans for the rest of the robot, and procure and fabricate the rest of the structural materials. The students held excellent brainstorming sessions and developed a conceptual design. Here Lenox, Mrs. Manuel and Donovan discuss a Parking Platform Mockup they have just built to the students requirements. From this mockup, Donovan will take dimensions and build the ramp system in a shop at Kimberly Clark.
Chris drills holes to mount pneumatic components.
Chris drills holes to mount pneumatic components. Mrs. Manuel looks on.
Mr Giles Troubleshooting.
Mr. Giles trying to get the ramp to go up and down.
Dana, Chris, and me fabricating.
Dana, Chris, and me fabricating.
Other team visiting Therrell.
Therrell helped two other high schools by allowing them to use the shop, by advising them on administrative details, and with money. Here another team visits Therrell to build their robot.
Other Team's Robot.
Other Team's Robot.
Our Robot at the competition.
Here is Panthera Robotica in its super paint job at the competition in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Dana, Lenox, and two teachers from other high schools look on. A cart sits on the parking deck to demonstrate how 30 points can be scored by lifting another robot more than 12 inches off the ground.
Chaotic Pit Area at competition.
At the contest, the pace was hectic and non-stop. It alternated between running off to matches and frenzied repair sessions like the one shown. Here everyone is moving as fast as they can to make repairs before the next match. The first morning there were many problems, but once they were fixed, the robot was reliable through the rest of the contest. We didn't quite do well enough to go to nationals, but we were ranked highly for our ramp system's reliability. One of our students (Jerron) gave a speech that won him a full ride scholarship to Kettering University.
Jerron Speaking at the Atlanta ASME Section.
Here, Jerron explains the workings of Panthera Robotica to the Atlanta Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Chris, Jerron, Rosalyn, Mr. Giles, Me, and Mrs. Manuel

Chris, Jerron, Rosalyn, Mr. Giles, me, and Mrs. Manuel speaking to the Atlanta Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at Georgia Tech.

Working with the students and building the robot was a lot of fun and educational to me. I plan to return for the 2008 season.

Therrell's 2008 Robotics Team