Oh, what fun it was!
As I mentioned the other day, the FIRST Robotics Championship Competition was this weekend in Atlanta, GA (USA). About 350 teams gathered from (alphabetically) Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States to show how well they could build a robot that could pick up inner tubes and hang them on a tree. And yes, there were about 350 different ways to do this.
My school’s team (Team 811) made a good showing of it. Our robot’s specialties this year were its autonomous abilities and overall robustness. As previously described, during the first 15 seconds of the 2:15 match, the robots are on their own, without human control, and a scoring benefit goes to the team whose robot can hang a tube all by itself. We did this several times. To let you know just what this means, consider this: The teams competing in Atlanta were divided into four divisions (Archimedes, Curie, Galileo and Newton). We were in Newton along with 85 other teams, and there were 102 preliminary matches between Friday and Saturday morning. In the 75 matches on Friday, each with 6 teams on the field, I’d say that tubes were hung autonomously less than 20 times; we did it twice.
I say Sparky (our robot) was robust because our pit crew found they had a LOT of time on their hands. So very few things went wrong, and when they did they were generally minor. This compares to some years when transmissions had to be disassembled, or telescoping arms had to be restrung, or drive trains had to be retentioned, seemingly between every round. This speaks volumes for how far the team has come.
Anyway, on Friday we were in five matches, and we won the first three handily and barely lost the next two. (How do I define "barely"? Where a lot of matches had 20 or less points apiece, the fourth match we lost by a score of 118-132!) On Saturday, we split our two matches, finishing up with a 4-3 record and in 26th place. The good news is one of the top 8 seeded teams liked what they saw in us, and invited us to be one of their alliance partners for the Quarter Finals. The unfortunate news is that we lost in the best of three match playoffs, and were done.
I am full of pride with how well the team performed, both during Build Season when we constructed Sparky, and in competition. Well done, Team 811!