The 2017 Swerve Drive Challenge!

IBOTS Swerve Design Challenge


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to design, prototype, build, program, and test a swerve drive module that can be used in future competitions.


What is Swerve Drive?

It is a type of drivetrain that uses hi grip wheels that rotate along their vertical axis to change the direction of the robot. This allows for an agile robot that has significant pushing power. It combines the driving flexibility of mecanum / omni wheels with the traction of hi grip wheel. The best of both drivetrains. The downside of swerve is the complexity and cost of the system.


Why a Swerve Drive Challenge?

Swerve is a complicated drive system with real world uses.  Students will need to design in CAD, create parts lists, work with mentors to buy the needed materials, fabricate custom parts, assemble the modules, and work with the electrical and programming team to get their product to function.  It requires a lot of work with different skill sets, project management, procurement, and working with teammates.  This makes building swerve a unique and challenging task.


Swerve in action



Examples of Swerve Modules

Here are some samples of swerve modules teams have built. 


Picture 1 of 13


Where do I begin?

Here’s a library of basic parts for Solidworks.  Start by looking at examples and come up with your own design.  Think about what kind of problems you foresee – ground clearance, obstacles, other robots, even the carpet being uneven.  You may want to create a solution for a specific situation (tank tread? Ultra low profile?) or a versatile module (CVT? Shifting? Multiwheel?). Next, build the entire system in CAD.  You can use stock parts from,, VEXPRO, McMaster-Carr, or other vendors.  It’s helpful if the vendor provided a CAD model of the product you want to use, or you’ll have to create it from scratch. Once the entire design is finished, create a spreadsheet with a list of required parts.  Work with a mentor to buy what you need.  Then, build your swerve and present it to the team!


Find a starter pack of stock parts here


How Do I Get My Design Built?

Once your design is complete, it will be reviewed by mentors.  If your design meets the criteria and is the mentors feel it will be functional, we can prototype a single module for testing.  We may even build all four and put it on a robot for full scale testing!  Here’s a few tips to make your design successful:

  • Include fasteners, clips, shaft collars, spacers, etc – every single thing you would need to build it.  Don’t skip parts because you will just add them later.  
  • Visualize how your system will work and make sure everything will behave as you expect.  Your axle needs to be secured so it doesn’t fall out, gears and bearings have to be held in place, and clearances should be put in.  It should work in the drawing before anything gets cut.
  • Make a list of parts – put a spreadsheet together with everything you need – bolts, nuts, shafting, wheels – everything.  Building the module will be a lot easier this way.



Good luck, and have fun!  Please contact your mentors if you have any questions.