We, Robots is a series of 3 posts about the use of SOLIDWORKS in Robotics, and its role as a transformation tool, whether in the classroom, in the laboratory, or on the factory floor. Here is the beginning of this story that starts with RioBotz.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen an incredible post about the Witch Doctor and the use of SOLIDWORKS in Robotics. Inspired by their story, I decided to talk to some friends (who also competed in Battlebots) about the usage of the software in their activities. In addition to being a big fan, I had the honor of working with some of the team members, and today we share the same campus at the university where I work. We are talking about RioBotz!
In 2002, students from the Instrumentation and Control Engineering bachelorship program at PUC-Rio watched a competition of combat robots, and decided to establish their own team. After communicating with the undergraduate coordinator, they reached out to Marco Antonio Meggiolaro, Professor of Robotics at the university. Thus began RioBotz and in the following year, 2003, had competed for the first time at the national level.
After several months of study and research, the first victory came in 2004. In its second competition, RioBotz introduced trends by inaugurating the first knockout in a Brazilian championship, becoming the undefeated champion.
Professor Marco Meggiolaro (at center) advising the RioBotz team during a break at RoboGames 2017
2006 marked their first international competition at Robogames. RioBotz received a bronze medal with Touro (120 lb) and a gold medal with Mini Touro (3 lb), and went on to become the first non-English speaking team to win the championship. In the following year, a new robot, the Touro Light (27 kg) debuted, and became the undefeated champion with the already established Touro name.
Mini-Tourol, the robot that brought RioBotz the first gold medal in an international competition
In 2009, there was a new challenge. The organizers of Robogames challenged RioBotz to build a heavyweight robot, so was born the Touro Maximus (220 lb), which helped define the now best known team. Maximus’ first gold came in 2013.
2016 was the debut year on BattleBots with Minotaur (250 lb). Known worldwide, and one of the most beloved robots of the event, Minotaur had a series of overwhelming victories, even having its miniature model marketed officially. Holding the title of the most destructive robot of the 2016 season, this robot has a legion of passionate fans and has deprived the sleep of many of its competitors.
Minotaur R/C miniature, sold by Hexbug
RioBotz and SOLIDWORKS
Despite all the fun of competitions, creating robots is engineering in its purest form: calculations,graphics drawings, simulations and analysis are all activities the team must cover, which has been using SOLIDWORKS solutions since 2004.
There are those who criticize the destructive character of the battles, but this is not the objective. The focus of the robots is on their construction rather than their destruction. Behind the few minutes of battle is a whole year of development, research, mechanics, power electronics, administration and marketing, all while enabling the team to collaborate while in training at the university. If the robot can withstand the harsh competitive environment, it is certainly prepared to face the challenges of industrial applications.
The knowledge generated through competitions provided the development of robots for defusing bombs in the oil industry, performing in radioactive environments, and even for assistive equipment, such as electric wheelchairs and omni-directional walking sticks.
Even with an extensive collection of medals and trophies, RioBotz doesn’t rest. The team is always updating and evolving with each new competition. In addition to combat, the robot also competes with line followers,humanoid robots and even with autonomous and sumo robots controlled by artificial intelligence. No wonder its slogan is Thinking ahead!
Check out Minotaur’s incredible performance against Blacksmith in the 2016 Battlebots season. Did you notice the energetic pilot? We will talk about him in the next episode!
One of the team’s differentiators is its knowledge sharing. Since 2006, it has provided a free tutorial full of information about combat robots and how to design them. This gesture allowed many teams to become professional and raise the level of the competitions. You can access the tutorial here, or purchase a printed copy via Amazon .
The challenges facing the RioBotz engineering team are easily transposed using SOLIDWORKS solutions. From the mechanical design, through to the manufacturing drawings and the analysis of finite elements, everything is intensely planned and simulated in order to reach perfection. Both SOLIDWORKS and the local reseller, MechWorks, became sponsors.
FEA Analysis of a combat robot drum using SOLIDWORKS Simulation
According to Rafaela Doyle, Customer Success Manager who oversees the relationship with MechWorks, the SOLIDWORKS solutions, along with the sponsorships, provide the foundation for RioBotz to design increasingly improved versions of their combat robots. MechWorks is proud of their involvement in the development of PUC-Rio engineering students, who are able to leverage the practical applications acquired in the classroom. ”
Did you enjoy getting to know RioBotz? In the next episode of our series, we will learn how combat robots allowed the creation of a modern robotics research laboratory, accelerating the technological development of robotics in Brazil.