2014: Aerial Assist – Clifford

The Game: Aerial Assist

Aerial Assist Gross

AERIAL ASSIST was played by two competing alliances of three robots each on a flat 25 x 54 foot field, straddled by a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective was to work together with alliance members to move the ball down the field and score it in the goals at the end. Large bonuses were given for working effectively as a team.

The Robot: Clifford the Big Red Bot


Our 2014 robot, Clifford, was designed to be able to complete the game’s tasks simply. We decided to use a 6 wheel drive train powered by 4 CIM motors to be able to have the robot turn on its center, zoom quickly across the field, and push other robots around. The drive train shifted between two speeds to accomplish this -a high gear of 16 feet per second and a low gear of 4 feet per second. The collector, a roller bar powered by a Mini CIM, easily collected the 2 foot diameter ball by rolling it up and over our robot’s bumpers. It could also pass the ball to our alliance partners by simply reversing the roller bar. The shooter was the most complex part of our robot, powered by both pneumatic and mechanical springs. It was able to shoot from two areas, about 3 feet from the goal and about 12 feet from the goal. However, it was mostly used for firing the ball over the truss. A winch was used to pull the electrical conduit shooter down after each shot. A latch then held it in place, acting as both a safety and a trigger for the shooter.


We utilized a belly pan to hold most of the electronics on Clifford. It had a very low ground clearance – only a 1/2 inch – to keep the robot’s center of gravity low. Many of the heaviest components, including the battery and the compressor, were only an inch or two off the ground. Clifford also featured lots of pneumatics on the drive train, collector, and shooter. Because of the shooter’s large use of air, we had 4 air tanks so the shooter could 2014be fired more times with less air compression mid-match.

Clifford’s programming allowed many functions to be highly automated. The entire shooting process (deploy collector, fire shooter, winch shooter back down) could all be activated with a single button. PID through the smart dashboard was used for automatic winch-down. Clifford also had a safety feature in case the latch slipped for whatever reason during testing or a match. If this happened, the shooter would stop itself mid-ascent, winch back down, and re-latch. A full set of manual controls was also created in case the automatic controls failed. All this automation made operating the shooter very easy, turning the secondary driver into a kind of second coach for our alliance, helping us greatly. The autonomous mode was also good, featuring an accurate high goal autonomous at the Crossroads Regional. This was improved with camera tracking for the Wisconsin Regional, allowing Clifford to shoot for the hot goal in autonomous.

The Results: See here

With its simplicity, good design, and automation, Clifford functioned beautifully on the field, with a season-long record of 24 wins, 8 losses, and 1 tie. Team 537 was able to use Clifford, along with the team’s extensive strategy, to reach the 3rd seed at Crossroads and the 1st seed at Wisconsin, both new records for the team. Team 537 also performed well as alliance captains in eliminations, becoming semifinalists at both events, a feat not achieved by the team since 2011. Although we did not qualify for the Championship event in St. Louis, we were extremely proud of Clifford’s accomplishments and hoped to do even better in 2015.

Team Awards

Member/Mentor Awards