Ravens Robotics Goes to Indiana

By Sophie Gordon

Dale Voege, the main driver, stands next to the Raven Robotics' robot at the St. Louis FIRST Robotics Competition.
Dale Voege, the main driver, stands next to the Raven Robotics’ robot at the St. Louis FIRST Robotics Competition.

The FHSD Raven Robotics team will have a second chance at moving on to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship when it participates in the Crossroads Regional at the Hulbert Arena at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana April 4-6. The competition this year is Ultimate Ascent where the robots must shoot frisbees into goals to earn points.

“It gives the team a second chance to make it into the national competition,” sophomore and Raven Robotics Treasurer Jacob Gordon said. Jacob worked as a programmer on the robot for this year’s competition. “Beyond that, it’s just a learning experience for everyone because the team hasn’t gone to another regional in the past, so based on this experience we’ll be deciding on things for the future.”

After placing second at the St. Louis Regionals, Raven Robotics was unable to qualify for the FRC Championship. To give the team a second chance, sponsor Mark Krueger decided to participate in the Crossroads Regional.

“Participating in the Crossroads Regional means that we have another chance to go to the national competition by winning,” junior and Raven Robotics President Aaron Harmon said. “But it also means more fun. It’s a new experience for all the members that have not traveled with the team. It’s new opportunities for the team to explore as it expands and grows.”

The team leaves early in the morning Thursday, April 4, in order to get to Terre Haute, IN in time for the start of the competition. Thursday consists of robot inspection and practice rounds. On Friday, qualification matches take place. Saturday wraps up qualifiers and begins elimination where the first place alliance, which includes three teams, advances to the Championship.

“Pretty much the entire time we are there we’re going to be working full time for this competition,” Jacob said. “It will be a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it.”

Teams are scored on the number of frisbees their robots can score in the goals. The goals are at varying heights, and points earned depend on the difficulty of scoring a shot. The hardest goal is worth five points while the easiest goal is only worth one. In addition to shooting frisbees, the robots can also earn points by climbing a “pyramid” made of pipes. The robots scored points depending on how high they climbed–getting to the top earns 30 points while being on the lowest level only gets 10. The Raven Robotics team focused on shooting frisbees rather than climbing because the robot could earn more points by making goals.

“I think it was an effective decision because most of the climber-bots were good, but some of them started to break down in the later matches, and they only got 40 points,” junior and Raven Robotics member Logan Harmon said. Logan built field props, like the 10-foot pyramid and wooden structures, for the robot to practice with.

The match itself is only two-minute, 15-seconds. There is a 15-second autonomous period where the robots must function without the influence of a driver and a two-minute teleoperated period where drivers control their robots from afar. The Raven Robotic’s main driver this year was Dale Voege, a sophomore from FHC.

“It’s like, I don’t really do much other than play video games, and that’s basically what this is a big, real-life video game,” Dale said. This is Dale’s second year on the team, and his first year as the lead driver.

Fifty teams will participate at the Crossroads competition which is an increase from the 43 teams in the St. Louis competition. According to the Rose-Hulman website, “the goal of the FIRST Crossroads Regional is to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology which will help them succeed in life and will help society.” The team looks forward to the challenge and hopes to advance to the Championship.

“I think the team will do well,” Aaron said. “I think there will be new challenges because it is a harder competition; but I think overall, knowing what we know from the St. Louis Regional, we will do very well.”