by the students, for the students

Welcome to the 2nd Annual BWTLink Design Challenge (BDC)!

As detailed last summer, every year during the offseason of the FIRST programs, us here at BWTLink will be creating a challenge for all students to participate in. The theme will be a particular topic posed by something we noticed in the recent competitions, and students have complete freedom to solve the challenge in anyway they wish.

For the 2024 year (along with many years before it), many teams employ the use of a claw to pick up and deliver scoring elements. As for the functionality of these claws, at least one actuator is needed to open and close the claw itself and frequently another is needed to rotate the claw in a wrist-like motion. Naturally, the position of these actuators in relation to the design of the claw is very important - it seems easier to put everything right on the joint in which something needs to move, but in consideration of packaging, weight, speed, and other factors, this isn’t necessarily always the best design possible, if not unreasonable. Your goal is to design a mechanism to operate claw open/close and claw wrist rotation with actuators mounted at the very root of your claw arm (rather than directly where said joint is), with transmission coming from the use of a string-based design.

Some additional information including the details on how submissions will be taken, scored, and everything else is included below.

Basic requirements:
  • You are expected to design and showcase how your mechanism works in some 3D medium (CAD, prototype, render/animation etc.).
  • You must make use of a string-based mechanism to power claw open/close and wrist rotation (claw rotating circularly around arm) up to 180°.
  • Claw arm can be designed as seen fit, but can be as simple as a beam/bar/rod type piece. You have full control over how size, shape, and design of arm looks.
  • Claw size, shape, function, etc. can be designed as seen fit - we will accept any general claw design.
  • Students must be affiliated with a robotics team.
  • Submissions will be submitted under the team affiliation (Multiple submissions are allowed and all submissions will be considered individually).
  • You are expected to include supplemental documentation detailing your design process, design principles, and final submission description - try to include pictures to aid your text! (PDF format)*.
  • You must submit a 2-minute video pitch demonstrating and explaining your design in your preferred 3D medium (Video link is required)*.
* Student designs that are named as winners will be published and showcased towards the robotics community.

  • Designs are primarily weighted in terms of efficiency and innovativeness.
    • You are mainly evaluated strictly upon complexity of your design - the best designs will contain very few, simplistic components while achieving full functionality and are easily applicable to all possible claw designs.
  • In the event that multiple designs receive the highest point band, we will be considering the following factors:
    • Should solutions be identical/near identical, we will prioritize submissions that contain more unique/innovative/concise components (as well as those that are submitted earlier).
    • Should multiple distinctly unique/innovative/concise submissions be present, all designs will be recognized.

Our scoring rubric will look as follows:
Points Earned1007550
DescriptionMinimum complexity for a string-based mechanism with no limit to functionality (including 180° wrist rotation)Minimum complexity for a string-based mechanism with tolerable limit to functionality (including 90° wrist rotation)The bare minimum - any design that allows movement of claw open/close and wrist rotation without direct mounted actuator

  • There will be prizes ($200, $100, and $50) in grant money for the top three places (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) respectively for the affiliated team(s) of the winning student(s) to aid in their coming season’s competition.
  • The winning student(s) will win a custom certificate recognizing their individual(s) innovative solution towards our proposed challenge.

Important Dates:
  • Event Kickoff: June 15th, 2024
  • Submission Deadline: August 25th, 2024 (11:59PM PST) Click HERE to submit your work.
  • Awards Announcement: August 31st, 2024 on BWTLink website. Winner(s) will receive a notification email.

Should you have any questions, please contact us HERE!

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