Robotics team misses playoffs at regional competition

By Austin Block

Nursing hopes of making the playoffs, the robotics team drove to Long Beach and entered the three-day Los Angeles Regional of the international For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition Thursday, March 24. However, those playoff hopes didn’t last long. The team struggled to score points in competition missed the playoffs, finishing 53rd.  

“I think that it’s a disappointing result,” Co-Captain Chase Basich ’11 said. “We had a really good robot this year. It worked a lot better than in all honesty any robot we’ve ever made has, yet our result did not reflect that.”  

After spending Thursday working on the robot, the team entered its robot in competitions Friday and Saturday at the Long Beach Arena. To score points, the team’s robot had to either pick up inflatable inner tubes and place them on racks of various heights or, in the last 10 seconds of each contest, release a “minibot,” a small robot encased in the larger robot, which would quickly climb to the top of a pole. Each contest pitted two teams of three robots against each other. The team scored with inflatable tubes a few times over the course of Friday and Saturday.

Jacob Swanson ’11, the other Co-Captain, attributed the poor result to the robot’s last minute assembly.

“We didn’t really have it all together until it was kind of too late, and so we either couldn’t pass inspections quick enough or we just weren’t ready to go out on the field, and as a result, we weren’t that effective in our actual matches, and that’s mainly why we did so poorly,” he said. “But the end result, what we have in our room now, is a really, really great robot … Something that we kind of relied on was this four week interim period between shipping the robot and the actual competition. We assumed that we could build what we could of the robot, ship it, build the rest, and then within one day put it all together, and what I realize now is that that’s pretty unrealistic.”

Now all that remains for the team members is to clean up their work station in Munger Science Center and to prepare the robot for presentation in the school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fest.

Swanson said the best moment of the competition came during a match on Saturday.

“I would say the best moment was this one match where we scored two rings on the top pole and I think that got our team 6 points, and we were the only scorers on our team,” Swanson said. “It was just nice to, after the difficulties we had, finally see the capabilities of the robot and to see that if we had had it where it is now about 45 minutes ago, we would probably be doing really well right now… that was fun to see that we had the potential to do well.”

Basich said the club should have more success in future years.

“I think that this club is just going to keep on getting better and better because, for example, this year we had just a few returning members, [and] next year they’re going to have like 15 returning members and that’s a big deal,” he said. “That means there will be 15 people that are used to working on robotics, have a good idea of how the club works, how to build a robot, how to design stuff, and just all of that added experience. I think it’s going to be a lot better next year.”