Design Concept: Flexing On the Competition

One idea we had during our brainstorming was to see if we could use our new Flex Wheels as a drive wheel. This seems ludicrous at first, but there are some unique advantages. One of the big ones being that Flex Wheels give the drivetrain a suspension without having to complicate it with linkages. In the past, FRC teams have used pneumatic tires to achieve a similar effect.

However for FTC, pneumatic tires have a number of disadvantages:

  1. They’re heavy
  2. You can’t easily find tires smaller than 6”
  3. The tread pattern can be too aggressive and could potentially damage field tiles.

Our hope is that we can use the VEXpro Flex Wheels to give us all the advantages of pneumatic tires, without the disadvantages listed above.

The first thing we wanted to check was how well the traction wheels perform on a fully weighted robot. (If you took our advice from our Strategic Analysis Post and re-read the Rover Ruckus game manual multiple times, you should already know what this weight is!) The weight of your drivetrain always matters when testing, but it’s especially important with the flex wheels because the heavier your robot is, the more the wheels will deflect.

In our initial test, we ran a drivetrain with two 4”, 60A Flex Wheels (217-6452) and two 4”, 40A Flex Wheels (217-6451). While both would work, the 40A wheels deflect quite a bit under 42 lbs. The 60A wheels had enough rigidity that we feel we could use these as a drive wheel. If the robot was lighter (probably in the 20lbs range) the 40A wheels could definitely be usable.  

The last thing we needed to check was to see if the Flex Wheels pass the 42 lbs wall test to make sure there wasn’t a risk of damaging the field.

The flex wheels passed without a problem.

So far, Flex Wheels look like a promising drive wheel option for Rover Ruckus!