What weighs 120 pounds, can fly at you near 20mph, score soccer balls, climb 90inch tall towers and more all while remotely controlled? If you said a robot from this years FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, competition congrats you’ve won one internet.
This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (March 25-27 respectively) the Oklahoma FIRST regional competition took place. Once again I, HaD writer [Jakob] was lucky enough to not only attend, but compete! Check out our full breakdown after the jump.
Readers may remember some time back when we explained he OKBEST competition, and noticed it had striking similarities to the FIRST competition. While the build time is only 6 weeks for both competitions, that is where the similarities end. We would love to give a rehash and an explanation of differences, but readers might like to simply read and compare for themselves between BEST and FIRST and realize they are completely different games.
This years goal for FIRST, is in short, a soccer game. A field with 6 robots (1 robot per team), three blue, three red, battle it out head to head; blocking, scoring, and more to be the winner of the round. The addition of not knowing your two other teammates until the day of the match, and the inclusion of small ‘hill’s and ‘climbs’ increase the difficulty of the competition. Those looking for a full explanation of the rules and game type can find it here.
Team captain once again played the role to allow me to bring you this overview. Unlike previous robotic competitions, this was the first time our team, 3124, attended FIRST — making us rookies.
Our team’s design, if put into one word would be simple. The initial aluminum frame was constructed on kickoff day from our kit of parts. After that, to keep the soccer ball out from under the robot – we wrapped a (donated supply) wooden skirt around the perimeter of the bot. A pneumatic (donated, yet later not used, we broke too many rules with it) kicker was implemented. After having traction issues – a custom spring suspension system (perhaps the most complicated portion of our robot, two springs and a bolt) kept all 4 wheels securely on the ground.
While we were rookies, had very little funding, only two/three active members, and even more disadvantages we still managed to come out on top. By ranking 5th (out of 54 other teams) in the seeding rounds, we attended semi finals after asking teams 932 and 2842 to join us, and ended up 3rd overall; giving us the award for Highest Rookie Seed. Anyone wishing to watch some (or all) of the matches and learn how teams ranked up should check BotsnLinux.net.
First definitely is a unique experience, and I’m glad I was able to attend. Honestly, we didn’t expect to reach nearly as high as we did in rankings. But thus teaching, you don’t have to have tons of money, or a complicated system, or a large team, or the best design to win. The adventure of course taught us much more than that in the end as well. Hopefully values and ideas that can be taken and used in future endeavors for years and years to come.