FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

PTC Resources for FIRST Robotics Competition

Jan 21, 2021 Written by McKenzie Brunelle, PTC Education Outreach Programs Coordinator and FRC Team 2648 Alumna




If your team is working hard to find ways to design, prototype, and build a robot under these unique social-distancing circumstances, then you aren’t much different from the engineers in the workforce! How do you collaborate on the same model, provide real-time feedback and build a robot that is ready to compete, all while remote? It’s a challenge, but PTC is offering you two new resources that are helping industry professionals and teams of engineers around the world accomplish great things through computer-aided design (CAD) and augmented reality: Onshape and Vuforia.

Computer-aided Design: Design Like the Pros

Using CAD software is a great way to design like the pros! Creating your robot digitally first allows you to more carefully plan its design and how you will build it physically. It also allows you to “test” your robot before you even break out the hardware, saving time, money and resources.

If your team is interested in learning more about design this season, consider using Onshape: a free, cloud-based, collaborative CAD tool that can be used anytime, anywhere and on any device, including Macs and Chromebooks. Not only is Onshape accessible from any device, it also includes collaborative features such as Follow Mode, and a user-friendly comments feature. Both of these features will be game changers for you and your team as you work remotely but simultaneously together to design your robot, game idea, or FIRST Innovation Challenge solution.

New to CAD and/or Onshape? Check out the CAD Basics course that will take you through the modules needed to start designing and building your own robot, as well as other important skills needed in the engineering workforce including problem solving, creating 2D drawings, and spatial reasoning skills.

The team over at Onshape has even brought this year’s field and game elements into Onshape, which you can easily access here. This will be a valuable tool for you and your teammates to understand how your robot interacts with the field and visualize your robot on the field before it’s even been built!

Use Augmented Reality to Build a Better Robot

Augmented reality (AR) is another important technology used by engineers around the world. With PTC’s Vuforia technology, you can use AR to view this year’s field. Download the Vuforia View app on your phone, scan the QR code, and place the field in the world in front of you. You can view the experience on your phone alone or use it with a viewer like Siemens’ cardboard. You can also change the scale of field, to view at tabletop size for strategizing or full size to visualize how your robot will interact with various elements.

Many teams will be facing unique hybrid situations this year, where some members of the team are in front of the robot, while other students and mentors are not. If some of your members are able to work on the robot in person, but you need expertise from an external source, you can use Vuforia Chalk to collaborate.  Chalk combines AR and real-time video calling, so that you can see and discuss the parts and mechanisms being worked on, while providing ideas and instructions with Augmented Reality. Draw annotations that stick to your build space, so you can help your teammates visually understand how to complete a task.

Have a team mentor sign your team up for Chalk here. Team members and additional mentors can then join your team on Chalk, where you can quickly call each other from your address book. You can also set up calls with people outside of your team, such as a mentor from the Mentor Network or an outside expert, using a Connect Code.

Learn more about the PTC products and resources offered for FREE to FIRST Robotics Competition students and mentors. 

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