Robotics teams compete at World Championships

Frank Jiang

Robotics subteams 62A and 62X competed in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Kentucky Exposition Center from April 24-27.

Subteam 62A, comprised of Jake Futterman ’21, Yvette Copeland ’21, Reggie Kim ’21, Chris Ladreyt ’21 and Isaiah Jeter ’21, won its first elimination match but lost in quarterfinals to the 2019 world champion. Subteam 62X, which consists of Justin Ansell ’20, Dean Reiter ’20 and Katie Mumford ’20, also qualified for the elimination stage but lost in the round of 16 to its division winner.

“I just enjoyed being around people who enjoy robotics as much as I do and are just as passionate about it,” Ansell said. “I wouldn’t say [VEX] Worlds is at an introductory robotics level, but rather it’s a great introduction to show what high school kids can do with robots.”

The event included 584 high school teams from various countries, including the U.S., Canada, China and Taiwan. The teams divided into six divisions and competed in several rounds of qualification until 16 teams remained. Each of these surviving teams picked a partner and competed once more in elimination rounds. The winning teams from each division then faced off against each other in a Round Robin tournament format. The top two battled each other in a series of three matches, and the victor was crowned the World Champion.

During each competitive match, a 15 second “Autonomous Period” began the event, in which each team’s robot automatically performed a pre-programmed set of code. Participants were not allowed to control their robot during this phase.

Futterman said that his team experienced challenges during the competition. In addition to the high-stress environment and the number of matches they engaged in, their robot suffered technical difficulties.

“We had been having trouble with getting [their autonomous phase] to consistently work every match, simply because of slight inconsistencies in the fields or in how much our wheels would coast after each movement,” Futterman said. “The night before eliminations, we stayed up until 2 a.m. practicing on a field in our hotel, trying different things to get it to work.”

Eventually, subteam 62A’s autonomous code for their robot succeeded, Futterman said.

VEX robotics has also announced that its field game for the 2019-2020 year will be the “Tower Takeover.”  Both teams have already started planning their robot designs.