Posted by Erik W on Mar 28, 2004 5:46 PM
I just got back late last night from the FIRST Robotics Competition at Northwestern University, with not enough energy to write this entry till today.
We came in third place (from last) but I had a great time!
When we got there, my jaw just dropped. The setup for this competition was AMAZING. Below is a picture of the setup, one side being the playing field, the other being the pits. We were called about 15 minutes before we went to compete, and were in a constantly moving line from that point on, having an hour between events. The second an event was done, the teams were taking their robots off as the new teams put theirs on, at the same time about 20 people who were running the event were resetting the playing field. It took just a matter of minutes between events! This had to be the most organized thing I've ever seen. They also had live video feeds with flat screens throughout the stadium with score updates and standings and a quite sophisticated setup for the computer systems running the whole event.
Some of the teams there had close to 50 kids, bigger than our football team! Lots of schools take this seriously, with noisemakers, spray painting their heads, giving out team propaganda to other teams and judges! It was crazy! What was so cool about this whole thing was, if you needed help with your robot, there were literally 2 or 3 teams coming to help you, because teammate selections were random, and it was to your best interest that everyone's robot worked. Everyone there was so nice and easy to talk with.
Too bad I'm a senior :( I would definitely do this again!
What the whole thing was about:
"Teams will become frenzied as they strategize on whether their robots will negotiate IR beacons during the Autonomous Period, herd small balls to Ball Corrals, cap large balls on goals, move mobile goals, climb steps or attempt to hang from the Pull-Up Bar. The object of the game is for teams' robots to trigger the Ball Release during the first 15 seconds, collect balls and feed them to the Human Players who will throw them into the goals. Robots will try to cap the goals with large balls to double the point value contained in that goal and attempt to end the match hanging from the center Pull-Up Bar. The final score is the result of adding small ball points in the goals, doubling the points for goals that are capped, and adding 50 points for any robot that is hanging from the bar. Each match will feature two-team alliances playing from opposite ends of the playing field. The robots from each of the four teams will be placed in starting positions straddling the white lines on the carpet in front of the drivers. The robots will be allowed 15 seconds to function autonomously, without driver control of any kind, to race to the Ball Tees, remove the balls and activate the Ball Release mechanism at their end of the field. After the "Autonomous Period," the robots will be under complete control of their drivers for the remaining 1 minute and 45 seconds of the match. If the Ball Release is not activated during the Autonomous Period, it will automatically activate at the 45-second mark of the match."