Raven Robotics places 48th at Championships

By Sophie Gordon

FHC sophomore Dale Voege pushes the cart that the Raven Robotics team’s robot sits on. The team participated in the FIRST Robotics Championship and placed 48th out of 100 teams. This was the team’s first year qualifying for the Championship. (photo by sophie gordon)

The FHSD Raven Robotics team placed 48th out of 100 in the Curie division at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship on April 25-27 at the Edward Jones Dome. The competition this year was Ultimate Ascent where the robots, built in just six weeks, shot frisbees into goals to earn points.

 “I thought it was a pretty tough game this year because of the pyramid climbing,” junior and Raven Robotics member Logan Harmon said. “I like the fact that it was kind of like basketball except with frisbees.”

The FRC Championship consisted of 8,000 high school students from 40 different teams. The teams came from nine countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United States.

“It was really neat seeing teams from around the world,” Logan said. “I especially liked that I got to meet one of the German teams and managed to speak a little German.”

The competition took place over three days. Thursday consisted of robot inspection and practice rounds. Qualification matches took place on Friday. On Saturday, qualifiers were completed and elimination began.

“It was very challenging,” junior and Raven Robotics President Aaron Harmon said. “It was much harder than the regionals were.”

Teams were scored on the number of frisbees their robots could score in the goals. The goals were at varying heights, and points earned depended on the difficulty of scoring a shot. The hardest goal was worth five points while the easiest goal was only worth one. In addition to shooting frisbees, the robots could also earn points by climbing a “pyramid” made of pipes. The robots scored points depending on how high they climbed–getting to the top earned 30 points while being on the lowest level only got 10.

The match itself lasted only two-minute, 15-seconds. The time was divided into a 15-second autonomous period, where the robots had to function without the influence of a driver, and a two-minute teleoperated period, where drivers controlled their robots from afar.

“I think our robot performed very well for how it was built,” Aaron said. “If our robot had a greater defensive capability, we would have been more valuable to have been picked by someone to form an alliance.”

Since teams played a three-versus-three game, some Raven Robotics members believe the team scored in the middle because the groups they were paired with were not very good.

“I thought our alliances were very hindering to us because the other robots didn’t do their part–they weren’t helpful to us,” Aaron said. “They didn’t do their fair share so we didn’t win the match.”

Sophomore and Raven Robotics Treasurer Jacob Gordon agrees that the team would have done much better had the team been allied with teams that pulled their weight.

“It’s really up to pure chance whether you’re paired up with a rookie or a team that has won multiple Regionals,” Jacob said. “When you go into a match with two rookie teams, and you’re going up against robots that have been doing great throughout the competition, you feel defeated from the start.”

Overall, however, the team was satisfied with where it placed.

“I think that we placed well overall out of the 100 teams in the Curie division,” Logan said, “especially because our robot was showing signs that it was starting to wear.”

Next year, the team hopes to win at Regionals for another chance at the Championship. In order to do this, the Ravens plan to work on team organization and motivation.

“This year, we’ve improved in so many ways, ” Jacob said. “The only thing we can do now is to go beyond even that.”