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Grants in Action: The Robotics Team Competes

posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:35 AM by Todd Sullivan
An update on the Westborough Robotics Team sponsored with a grant from the Westborough Ed Foundation:

"The 2014 FRC New England Region Championship is over and unfortunately, we didn't advance to the World Championships. There were 53 teams and we finished in 41st place with a record of 4-8-0. As expected, there were so many good teams that most teams fell in the middle of the ranking with very few at the top and bottom. No one went undefeated and only one team was winless. We faced a string of bad luck that could easily have changed our fortunes; but the team took it well and forged ahead. In one match, our two alliance partners became entangled with one tipping over so we had to play solo - and almost won if not for a technical foul by a human player. In two other matches, a top ranked partner inexplicably had ball shooting and handling problems. Nothing is guaranteed and this is just art imitating life.

But all was not bad. Our robot held its own even when we lost a match and other teams noticed. On Friday we deployed our secret weapon - our blocker. A few teams had blockers during the District Events but no one successfully used one. At the Championship, no other team had a blocker and no one expected us to use it; and certainly not during the autonomous period. So with the start of play, our robot deployed the blocker, posted itself in front of an extremely good opponent and blocked both of its shots. The crowd loved it. The opposing coach was overheard saying "I didn't expect that!". Little victories like this make all the hard work worthwhile. And it helped us advance to the elimination round.

Despite our poor ranking, the #2 alliance picked us to be one of their partners. We were thrilled to advance! But bad luck struck again as we lost 2 matches during the best-out-of-3 quarterfinals; and had to play shorthanded when one of our partners lost their drivetrain. In the end, we didn't accrue enough points to make the cut for the World Championship.

The Championships was a lot tougher on the robot - we had to make a few minor repairs for the first time. But on the whole it was extremely sturdy and it validated our solid design. We now start our post-season where we plan on competing at Battle Cry at WPI (Sat/Sun May 24 & 25) and Beantown Blitz at Northeastern University (Sat May 31). We will use these events to (1) train new drivers (these things are no easy to control) and (2) allow younger team members a chance to incrementally refine the robot and build their technical skillset. The season is not over yet!"

Visit the team's YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/user/FIRSTteam4048