TE Connectivity (TE), a leader in connectivity and sensors, lent its engineering expertise to upgrade a robot design for the upcoming season of the Discovery Channel show, BattleBots®. The show pits next-generation robots designed and engineered from all corners of the globe against one another in a three-minute bout where the goal is to destroy or disable the opponent.
A breadth of expertise improves one small robot
Team Valkyrie, one of the show’s contestants, consulted with 17 TE engineers from around the world to upgrade their robot’s design and ensure the best performance. The team needed to implement technology that would provide condition-based monitoring on the robot to improve performance, predict failure, and maintenance needs.
TE consulted on the following systems:
–Telemetry — Providing live-broadcast data back to the team that would allow them to switch strategies mid-battle.
–Data-logging — Saving critical data on the weapon motor in real-time to verify weapon performance.
–Electric-brake design — Safely and efficiently discharging energy from the robot’s weapon.
“This was a great project to work on and an opportunity for our global engineering team to consult on front-end design just like we would with any of our customers,” said Ricardo Hernandez, Industry Sales Manager at TE Connectivity. “In many ways Team Valkyrie was dealing with the same technical and environmental challenges our customers face daily in their industrial applications.”
Rugged for the ring and real-world applications
To provide necessary machine learning, the connector solutions used needed to withstand high-amperage and dynamic current loads without overheating the motors or using energy needed for critical movement and weapons functions. Connectors also needed to perform under significant shock and vibration, as well as with dust and debris — similar to the industry’s Ingress Protection (IP) 65 requirements.
These challenges are similar to those experienced in industrial applications utilizing automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), said Hernandez. AGV applications often require heavy-duty connectors to withstand significant shock and vibrations without compromising the enclosure. Similar technology can also be employed to monitor devices on the manufacturing floor that aren’t connected to a network. This makes it possible to troubleshoot and optimize performance without a dedicated electrical drop.
In addition, all connector solutions implemented used a rectangular configuration to avoid requiring specialized crimping tools. This enabled the team to realize the same installation and maintenance efficiency as industry installation teams. Team Valkyrie used the AMP Power Series – 50, AMP Power Series – 75, and the high flex silicone jacketed wiring from TE in their design.
“In season past, Valkyrie has hit hard enough to literally unplug and turn off our opponents’ robots, so sturdy and rugged connectors are critical to us,” said Leanne Cushing, Captain of Team Valkyrie. “Thus far, we’ve never had a connector failure thanks to TE.”
When to watch
The first episode of the newest BattleBots season will air on The Discovery Channel on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.