Pneumatics. Such a funny word, yet such an essential part to nearly any robotic system. In this year’s competition, one can expect to see legions of robots covered in tubing, compressors, and regulators.

The basics of pneumatics kicks off with a pneumatic schematic. This document details the essential components, beginning with the compressor—compressing the air to be stored in special storage tanks. With an automatic and manual release valve, the pressure will never get higher than that set in the game rules. Following the storage of compressed air comes a set of regulators and blocks. The regulators decrease the pressure to the operating levels needed and the blocks distribute that pressure to the cylinders. These cylinders, with a little push and a shove from the compressed air, move essential components on the robot.

With the completion of our schematic, we went forth with the building of our pneumatic panel. Starting with compressor, mounted firmly on the base. The remaining pneumatics snake their way around the robot providing life to the mechanical Frankenstein.

Now comes the most impressive part! With two different pressures, we are able to operate six different onboard subsystems with fourteen separate cylinders. With such an abundance of pneumatics riding on board, an acuity to detail is crucial.

And with that, the pneumatic schematic session comes to an end. Only a week left to build, the pressure is building, and our robot is fighting for life.

-Jarod Smith