Lunar Landing Assist Model Alpha (LLAMA) Bot X-3000 was Team 527's 2009 Lunacy robot. It was named for how its side profile resembled that of a llama. Its primary driver was Matt Bruno, with Dom Guerriere as systems operator. It attended the New York City Regionals, the Chesapeake Regional and the SBPLI Long Island Regional.
Lunacy incorporated low-friction wheels on a low-friction surface. To combat this, LLAMA Bot was designed with a 10 wheel drive system. Initially, this feature was seen as an unnecessary addition of weight, yet it would become the robot’s greatest asset.
LLAMA Bot was originally designed and constructed as a dumper system, where the “moon rock” balls would be picked up via a conveyor from the floor and stored in a hopper, where they would be stored until one large offload into an opponent’s trailer. However, tests concluded that the moon rocks did not leave the hopper fast enough to reach an opponent’s trailer, so the hopper was removed in place of a shooter mechanism.
The shooter acted similar to a pitching machine. The system operator would move balls up the conveyor until they reached the top and rolled down a short ramp into a spinning wheel, accelerating the moon rocks into an opposing robot’s trailer. This system was tested successfully in the sixth week of build season, and LLAMA Bot was packed on time in the team crate for its first competition at the Jacob Javits Center.
New York City Regional
Initially, LLAMA Bot was plagued with difficulties at the Javits Center. The shooting mechanism would slow down as balls rolled into it, the distance they traveled progressively decreasing when moon rocks were launched in succession.
However, the 10-wheel drive- with its four motors and shifting gearboxes- would become the key to LLAMA Bot’s success. While some teams had laughed at the excessive number of wheels on LLAMA Bot- few robots utilized more than a 6-wheel drive- the design of the drive on the low-friction field allowed LLAMA Bot to overpower almost every other competitor. The robot would push competitors into a wall or corner, where human players could easily score on the helpless machine and trailer. This tactical advantage was quickly incorporated by the programming team in the pits into the autonomous mode, allowing LLAMA Bot to pin the adversary across from it while the opponent had no control to escape.
Despite these improvements, LLAMA Bot and the Red Dragons only reached 23 seed in qualifications, and were not selected by any alliance for the elimination rounds. Once the competition ended, the shooting mech was removed, as it was found to actually decelerate moon rocks during heavy use. The balls would now only roll out using the acceleration of gravity. Following this modification, LLAMA Bot was packed up for the next competition in Annapolis, MD, where its design would finally begin to allow for wins.