Robotics Competition


Daniel Franchetti, Editor

The robotics team, led by Logan Cuthill, had their qualifier on January 11, 2020 at North Kingstown High School. The robot had been tried and tested many times before the event. There were five matches for the team where they were paired with another team to take on a team of two schools. Points were scored by reaching objectives. The primary objective of each round was to transport large, studded bricks under a bridge and stack them on a plate. The team was confident in their collection device, which they proudly called the “succulator”, built by Cuthill, Keir O’Neill, and Shane Fagan. But, as prepared as they felt, none of them were ready for what would happen before the first round.

The morning went smoothly. The team passed the interview, and physical check, but when it came time to check the program, there was a problem. At a previous scrimmage about a month before, the refs had passed the team with a clean bill, but now the team was flagged for not having the latest version of the programming software. There was no previous notice of the requirement to have a certain version of the software. So the programmers David Steets, Sean Jacob Alcordo, and Atul Thyvalappil had to work to download the new software. Since the team was one of the first through inspection, there was plenty of time. However, some members feared that elimination would happen. The software was updated in time for inspection before the rosters were printed for the day’s matches.

Though past inspection, the team was not entirely clear. The code was still out-dated and would not function properly on the new system. The automatic and manual programs would not run as the team’s first match began. A representative when to the field with the robot and stayed there while the programmers updated the code to become compatible with the new software. Soon after the team’s first match, the code was now fully functional. The team was ecstatic as the code performed well in tests and the chance to secure a spot for the state tournament was once again in reach.

While the code now functioned as intended and was up to the requirements, the automatic period code still did not want to function during the actual matches. There was a practice arena where the team did test runs through the day, even through the two hour lunch, to discover any problems, but none arose. For every match they had, their automatic portion that counted for about a third of their score was not executed as planned. The team’s manual driver period did make up for it, along with the aid of the other team in the alliance.

After the team had their last match, their rank was too low to qualify for the state round. However, during the final match before the semi-finals, one of the higher teams dropped down far enough to bump the team’s rank up to 8 out of 19. This nearly guaranteed a spot in the state tournament. At the awards ceremony, the team won an award for design, probably for their “succulator” for its use of spring-loaded wheels that guided blocks in and held them tightly between each other. During that time, it was also revealed that the team was going to move on to the state tournament. The team resolved afterwards to perfect the automatic code section and the very next day, the programmers said that they could triple the number of expected points with the code they were developing. The builders also said they planned to work on the “succulator” and improving its accuracy and stacking height for the state competition on February 8. If anyone is interested in joining, see Mr. Rakovic in room 107a.