05 November 2011

Lateral Thinking

I read a book by Edward de Bono called Lateral Thinking and it really gets a guy thinking about the smallest of problems that can be solved by looking at things, well, laterally. The problem I want to talk about is the 3 cups and 3 knives problem, in which 3 knives have to be placed on 3 cups in such a way that another cup can be place on top of the 3 knives. The solution is easily found on YouTube, but what I wanted to address is a slight deviation. I am a big juggler, and found myself alone with 3 juggling clubs and a big exercise ball. Thus, I took two minutes, and created a solution to the problem with clubs on a sphere by getting the center of gravity perfect. Here are the goods:

And, a little video to prove it is standing by itself, with no extra aid.


The main reason I brought this up, however, is due to the FTC(First Tech Challenge) competition my team just competed in today. My team's robot had the most LEGO, which most people disagree with. But I think laterally, and tell others to picture it like a multistage rocket. A part falls off after being used, and can be recycled if necessary. In the end, we came in 4th, with some of the most unique strategies used.

To get anywhere in robotics, creative thinking has got to be used. Big companies are already on top of the ideas of today, but the next generation has to think laterally to help along the ideas of tomorrow.