We are The Drop Bears, Team 4774 of the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC). Every year we work together to build a new robot to compete in a sports-like competition. We are given 6 weeks during December, January and February to design and build a robot to compete in a challenge against other teams, in both free for all as well as in alliances with other teams. This year our team built Scarab, a 2 meter tall giant of a robot which was designed for the Recycle Rush challenge. Every section of our team worked together during build season, and the months leading up to it, to turn an idea into an autonomous and controllable robot. While this is a great achievement for us, and we have put a lot of effort into this, it could not have been done without the support of our sponsors. With their help we were able to turn this idea into a reality, and compete in both the Australia Regional and the Hawaii Regional! So thanks Sponsors!
FIRST Australia began in 2006 and in 2012 two year 9 students, Ian Thomas and Hayden Drake founded The Drop Bears. These year 9 students were inspired after seeing another team participate in the FRC, and after communicating with The University of Sydney, began their own team named ‘The Drop Bears’. Since then, the team has grown from its original members, into a group of over 20 skilled students.
During the build season, and competition time, the Drop Bears are arranged into two main sections. Mechanical and Software, with everyone collaborating on media and business challenges. Additionally, and the Drive Team is tasked with driving the robot during competition and is comprised of students from all sections. Throughout the off-season every team member learns different skills in all areas before choosing to specialise.
The Mechanical team is charged with the nuts and bolts of engineering the Robot.
It provides the opportunity for students to show what they’ve learned throughout the year and:
- Design, and draw plans for engineering
- Test designs both physically and theoretically
- Physically construction of the robot
- Provide ongoing maintenance of the robot
During the off-season students learn to use programs such as SolidWorks which is a Computer Aided Design (CAD) package and develop skills within engineering mechanics to solve problems and design solutions.
The software section handles the programming and the creation of command-oriented systems for each component of the robot.
Team members write code for the robot for things such as:
- Joystick operation
- Autonomous period
- The Inertial Measurement Unit
Team members write the code for the robot using hybrid C++ and Python, and are given various coding projects during the off-season to get them ready for build season.
Media and Business
The Media and Business section is focused on showcasing the achievements of the team, presenting our brand and ensuring that sponsors receive value for money.
This includes tasks such as:
- Sponsor and partner relations
- Video Creation and Editing
- Graphic Design
- Producing content for the website
- The organisation of events, such as the yearly trip to Hawaii.
Every team member is taught a basic understanding of media and business during the year to teach how to best produce and manage content.
The drive team have arguably the best job of all! But also the most stressful. They’re in charge of actually driving the robot following the autonomous mode! This team is made up of a few key students who study the inner workings of how the robot responds to commands, what it is capable of, and just how far they can push it.
The team is also supported by the Mentors who generously give to the team their skills, knowledge from their individual workplaces and most importantly, their time. Our Mentors come from very different backgrounds, such as Mechatronic Engineering, Programming, Business, Media Relations, and we also have a few students. The students and the mentors work closely during off-season and build season to develop a team that is ready and eager for the challenge of the FRC.
Again we would like to express our thanks to our Sponsors who have made it possible to grow this team from two young students with a dream, into a successful team that has competed internationally four times.
And a special thanks to Mr Robert K. Thomas!