Anatomy of a robot: Overview of Storm 2’s key strengths

August 25, 2016
Anatomy of a robot: Overview of Storm 2’s key strengths

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at the anatomy of Storm 2, as it competes in this year’s Robot Wars television series. We’ve looked at everything from Storm 2’s power to the software used in the robot. Here we look at the key points that makes Storm 2 competitive across the world.

Just like VMware’s Software-Defined Datacenter, Team Storm uses software-defined speed controllers in Storm 2. This allows us to use the same speed controller platform across all our robots, and uses software to configure how they work (although we’ll admit that we’ve not managed to vMotion from one robot to another!).

The software constantly analyses how the robot is performing and makes real-time changes, including managing the current to the motor which ensures that the robot stays healthy.

vRealize Operations is a great way to keep an eye on the health, risk and efficiency of your datacentre – and in exactly the same way its access to and the ability to analyse real time data from the robot during fights – as well as to capture and store that data for off-line analysis that helps us learn and adapt.  We can pull RPM data, temperature, voltages, and current from the robot – all of which help us ensure we maintain the health of the robot, risk of overheating, and efficient use of power on board. It was through the use of data that we decided to use dry ice to cool the robot. Having looked at the data, we could see that the robot was overheating and by how much – we decided that rather than try to put fans into the robot to cool it down during a fight, it made more sense to try to lower the starting temperature, and thus lower the end temperature. None of this would have been possible without the ability to get access to real-time data.

VMware’s EUC technology played a key part in how we designed the robot – most crucially VMware Fusion, which allows you to run Windows workloads in a Mac – however this parallel extends to VMware’s wider EUC technology where GPU acceleration allows you to run the kind of high-end CAD software (Autodesk Inventor in our case) anywhere in the world through a Virtual Desktop connection, GPU accelerated by technologies such as nVIDIAss GPUs.

So here’s a question for you – what would your perfect robot be? Or, if we were to build a new machine for 2017, what should we do? There’s so much technology bursting on to the market.  Brushless motor technology is just coming of age, maturing to a point where price and performance are starting to mean they would work. 3D printing allows for the manufacture of parts in new and interesting ways, and more exotic metals (such as the Armox 600 that Storm 2 uses in its construction) allows for robots to be built stronger than ever.

Have you enjoyed finding out the inside information on what it takes to battle other robots? You can check out the whole anatomy of a robot blog series here. Let us know what you think and if you have any questions on Storm 2 you can ask Ed on Twitter at @VMware_UK or @EdHoppitt.

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