William & The Syndic

William & The Syndic

The robots for our 5th year competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition are named William & The Syndic. William wasn't related to the game FIRST STEAMWORKS or to Rembrandt van Rijn. After the 2016 competitions, we received some sad news. After hearing the news about William Pijnenburg passing our hearts were filled with sorrow. William Pijnenburg was managing director of AAE. So, as an honorable mention to never forget his efforts in the name of AAE for Team Rembrandts. The Syndic was named after a paint form Rembrandt van Rijn. It also fits with the game. With our robot "William" we went to the South Florida Regional in West Palm beach. After that, we went to the Orlando Regional in Orlando. During the South Florida Regional, we got awarded the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors. During the Orlando Regional, something happened that we couldn't believe. With the help of our alliance partners, Team 1744 - Robo Rays & Team 180 - S.P.A.M., we managed to get into the finals. Together we were able to defeat the blue alliance and we became the Orlando Regional Champions. If that wasn't enough we also won the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation. Because we won the Orlando Regional we were qualified for the FIRST Championship 2017 in St. Louis. During this FIRST Championship, we managed to get into the quarter-finals of the Tesla Division. This was the first time in our history that we got so far at a FIRST Championship.

Our strategy with William & The Syndic was to design and build a robot that is very fast with picking up the gears from the ground. We chose this strategy because we thought that there would many robots that will drop the gears on the ground near the feeder station and near the airships. So, building a robot that can pick up gear from the ground would make us unique. This was our main strategy. Climbing on the airship was our second strategy. Because with climbing you could score a lot of points definitely if your alliance partners are also able to climb in the airship. Our last strategy was to build a shooter that mainly is able to shoot the 10 balls you are able to preload at the beginning of the game.

For our autonomous, we first focus on driving forward over the baseline. After we accomplished that we focused on driving forward and deliver gear to the airship. This is very easy, just use the knowledge of driving forward over the baseline and make it work for delivering the gear. After that, we wanted to be able to deliver the gear to the side of the airship. And for our last autonomous strategy, we wanted to be able to shoot the 10 preloaded fuel into the boiler.


With a spinning axle covered with velcro we climb the rope onto the airship. Thanks to an one way locking gear we prevent that the robot is going to fall when the motors are turned off. We added two microswitches for detecting the touchpad. But during the South Florida Regional after only a few matches the microswitches broke down. Because we didn't need them, we didn't change them. We found out that after a few matches the velcro would wear down. This made the robot come down, because the rope unrolled. Luckily we were able to climb again before the end of the match. As precaution we changed the velcro on our robot as soon we spotted some wear.

We want to thank especially all the volunteers that had to repair the many touchpads we broke during the regionals and worlds.






For the drivetrain we chose to use a 6 belt driven Colson Performa wheels. To power these wheels we designed a custom made dual CIM single speed gearbox (ratio 84:12) and we placed two encoders of 360 steps per rotation on the gearboxes. Which we used during our autonomous programs.


We quickly decided that we wanted to pick up gears from the ground and places them on the lift. During prototyping we found an easy and simple way to pick up gears from the ground. We us a rubber roller to grab the gear and take it into the robot. While the gear gets into our robot a plate gets pushed backwards. The plate is connected to elastic straps which are brought to tension. Because this plate is trying to push the gear back out and thanks to the rubber roller is still rotating the gear starts to go upwards at the front of the robot. With a second rubber roller we place above the first rubber roller we guide the gear upwards and in position for the pilot to be taken out of our robot. Thanks to optical sensors we can let the drive team know that a gear is in our robot.





As last we integrated a shooter into our robot. With the help of 2 wheels we can shoot fuel into the boiler. We focused only on the 10 fuel balls you can preload into your robot. Unfortunately, our magazine didn't work great. So, in the end we chose not to use the shooter. After the regionals we even removed some parts of the shooter so we could place our camera on a better place.