Robotics regional coverage: For robots, it's a race to the top
For a robot, climbing a 7 1/2 -foot pyramid can be a daunting task -- and that's the point. In this year's FIRST robotics challenge, Ultimate Ascent, robots have the opportunity to score up to 30 points by climbing to the top of a three-rung pyramid.
For a robot, climbing a 7½-foot pyramid can be a daunting task -- and that's the point.
In this year's FIRST robotics challenge, Ultimate Ascent, robots have the opportunity to score up to 30 points by climbing to the top of a three-rung pyramid. Each robot climbs 2½ feet apart. These points can make or break a close match. But there's a risk.
"It went down at the buzzer!" an announcer could be heard at the BAE Systems Granite State Regional in New Hampshire last weekend when a robot from the Screaming Eagles of Gilford, N.H., fell from the top of the pyramid in a video that's gone viral in the FIRST community.
Fortunately, it wasn't career-ending.
"Yeah, the robot is fine," Chris Drever, the coach of the Screaming Eagles, said from New Hampshire. "It only suffered minor damage and was ready to compete 15 to 20 minutes later."
Drever said the team is optimistic about their next competition in April, adding that their modified strategy is to climb to the second rung instead of the top, and drop five colored disks into the goal at the top of the pyramid.
"We get 20 points from climbing to the second level and then another 20 points from the five colored disks."
On the floor of the Northern Lights Regional on Friday, Thunder Robotics of Northwood, N.D., had a tense moment as their machine nearly reached the third rung of the pyramid and then fell to the floor.
"I don't think they were on the bar all the way. It just wasn't perfect," said John Normandin, a mentor with the Pirates from Crookston, Minn.
Mike Voglewede, Thunder Robotics' coach, explained further.
"It just was attempting the third level and didn't grasp the bar fully, but it tried to climb," he said.
Fortunately, it was OK, and was able to compete in the later rounds.
"We welded our frame, so we knew if it fell from the second rung, we'd be OK," team member Corey Hagen said.
Team 3018, Nordic Storm from St. Peter, Minn., agrees that climbing is still worth the risk. They created an intimidating robot that climbs the pyramid using arms covered in small hooks -- and it goes all the way to the top.
"There aren't a lot of climbers (at the Lake Superior Regional) that can get more than 10 points," said team member Arick Mayl.
Duluth's Denfeld Hunters decided the other way, forgoing the climbing.
"Early on, we were debating between shooting and climbing but we decided it would be lot easier to just do shooting," said team member Jack Sutherland.
Leah Abrahams contributed to this report. Abrahams and Kirsi Kuutti are members of the Duluth East Daredevils. Christina Le is a member of Eagan High School's Blue Twilight team.