Last Sunday, January 11, the First Tech Challenge Pasteur Interleague Championship was held at Everett High School. Twenty-nine of the thirty-two teams between Bellevue and British Columbia that qualified to participate showed up for a battle of the robots. As it was my first time attending a robotics competition, I had a lot to learn, including the fact that teams consist not only of the drivers and coaches we saw that day, but also of fabricators and programmers. Many others provide support including teachers, mentors, parents and other volunteers. The Anacortes High School Cyborg Ferrets teams #7198 and #8934, who both competed, consist of about a dozen 9th through 12th grade students. Oak Harbor High School’s team, Whidbey Island Wildcat Robotics, team #7676 also competed in hopes of earning a slot in the State Championship. All teams spent many hours fabricating their robots, which must, when all parts are retracted, fit within an 18 inch cube, programming, testing and tweaking their designs to prepare for the challenge.
Organizers gave a brief presentation before the matches began explaining information about the organization and the competition.
This year’s Challenge Game, called Cascade Effect, requires teams of two robots each to perform specific tasks in order to score points against their opponents.
After teams place their robots in position, judges place the center structure, filled with 40 large and 160 small white plastic balls (half each side), minus one small and one large ball allowed per team, in one of three positions. During the initial 30 second time period, robots act in autonomous mode with pre-programmed movements. Robots score points by exiting platforms, releasing kickstands, placing balls in goals and moving rolling goals to specific locations.
The fun really begins as the timer is reset to two minutes in preparation for the Driver-Controlled Period, during which the teams’ drivers attempt to earn points by placing balls in rolling goals by controlling the robots remotely.
During the End Game, the final thirty seconds of the match, teams earn points not only by placing balls in rolling goals, but also by moving rolling goals to the Parking Zone or completely off the floor onto the ramp, placing balls in the center goal and by moving their robots to the Parking Zone or ramp.
For this event, every team partnered with a different team each time, playing six matches total, one of which paired the OHHS Wildcats with the AHS Cyborg Ferrets A.
Anacortes High School’s novice FTC team, Cyborg Ferrets B, is shown here.
After all initial matches had been completed, teams were ranked based on their past and present league play. Anacortes Cyborg Ferrets A #7198 was ranked first, followed by Victoria B.C.’s Fix-It #3491 in second, Mount Vernon High School #5920 in third and Arlington High School #9393 in fourth.
Teams were then tasked with choosing two alliance partners whose strengths balanced their own weaknesses.
According to their scout for the day, the Cyborg Ferrets chose #9517 Sedro Woolley High School and #6541 International School (Bellevue, in the Penguin hats) Titan Robotics because, of all available teams, they had the potential to score the most points for tasks that the Cyborg Ferrets tended not to perform, namely: moving rolling goals and robots. Although the OHHS Wildcats were not chosen as an alliance partner, their mottoes said it all, “We are one team, we have one mission. Our goal is to complete that mission as one,” and “We don’t lose, we learn.”
With twelve teams remaining, the alliance of the first and fourth and second and third ranked teams played three matches each. The winner of each then competed first place.
In the final match-up, the Red Alliance won the first match and tied the second, meaning that the last match of the day would decide it all.
During the 30 second autonomous period, Red Alliance team #6541, scored multiple times when they exited the ramp, placed their two balls in a rolling goal, then moved the goal to the Parking Zone. During the 2:00 minute period, the Red Alliance team members made contact on their side of the center goal, releasing the kickstand and the balls. The battle between Blue and Red Alliance continued down to the wire. Team #6541 placed a rolling goal on the ramp and then remained off the field. Just before the buzzer, Red Alliance team #7198 placed several balls in the center goal, leading them, #7198 Anacortes High School, Sedro Woolley High School and #6541 International School (Bellevue) to victory and earning all three a spot, along with five other teams, in the FTC State Championship to be held later this month, on January 31, at the Showare Center in Kent. FTC volunteers treated the audience to an impromptu performance of the Chicken Dance while the award recipients were being finalized.