This was a very difficult challenge since shooting a basketball into a hoop requires both precise aiming and a parabolic trajectory. I believe this was the most difficult scoring challenge in FRC ever. Many teams had extreme difficulty making baskets. Most teams that could shoot baskets could only do so from specific spots on the floor.
My son Brandon was the programmer/driver for the team and we used several different technologies to implement a control system which could reliably make baskets from almost anywhere within 12 feet of the hoop. It had a Microsoft kinect on the turreted shooter which was used to automatically adjust the shooter wheel speed. It also had a camera which provided aiming feedback to the driver. From the driver station, you could click on the live video feed to tell the turret where to aim. We found that the turret needed to typically be aimed within 1 degree of “perfect” in order to hit shots. Here is a diagram which shows the various components in the control system.
Here is a document that we released describing how the kinect subsystem on the robot works.
During the season we got noticed by Microsoft and one of their employees blogged about us. Microsoft was also kind enough to send us some spare Kinects for our world championship run.
At the Championship, my son and I got interviewed by Popular Mechanics. This was a magazine I loved to read when I was a kid so it was really cool to be on their website.
Here are some highlights from the 2012 season. We went 32-0 during the regular season and made it to the finals of the world championship. We also won the world championship “control system” award!