A couple of months ago, I thought robots were complicated automatons that only a genius such as, well, Sloan could build. Boy, was I wrong.
My team's name is 3946C. C officially stands for Clement, after a teacher here at Kent. Unofficially, it stands for "close enough."
My robot. I still can't believe that I, a girl who consistently fumbles and drops all the screwdrivers in the vicinity, built this robot. Sort of. For the first couple weeks when I didn't know anything, I was C's tool thief. Nobody would suspect a freshman loitering by their table to steal their metal parts, would they? Whenever Sloan saw me looking bored, she would wink and say, "y'know, Thea, I could really use a small allen right now. I saw W with one earlier, Plus, Seb's a jerk. Go do what you must," and I'd hop off the table and produce a screwdriver within 30 seconds.
Ah, the days before knowledge and responsibility set in. Now the fate of tournaments rests on my shoulders and whatever.
Snap out of it! I flash back to the field. 12 feet by 12 feet, four 18x18 robots jostling each other around and competing for the win– 12 feet is not nearly enough room, and one minute is not nearly enough time. Blue versus Red, two of each team. Cones are worth two points, highest stacks in each of the zones and on the stationary goals are all worth.. five? I'll have to check with Uly. There's a five, ten, and twenty point zone in the opposite two corners of the field, mobile goals in the center and in the other corners. Remember the autonomous routine; an automatic thirty points, if all goes well. A win in Auton is worth whatever you scored, plus an extra ten. Score mobile goals in the zones. In The Zone is the name of the game. Drive–drive well–they're all counting on you–drive, Thea, drive! The game starts in ten–
Hold your controller out in front of you so the judges can tell that you aren't cheating. The first ten seconds are autonomous, then you have a minute of driver control.
The autonomous period has begun!
The robot lurches out onto the field. The other three robots are motionless. Ha! No, don't get cocky now. Even though you're the only team with an auton routine, you're not guaranteed a win. It's going well so far. The robot mows down cones on its way to the mobile goal. It sets the mobile goal manipulator down right on time, jerks forward again to grab the goal, picks it up, and begins the spin. We've had trouble with spins in the past. The auton routine all depends on the quadrature encoder, which has been sketchy in its accuracy lately. Come on, come on... Success; the robot turns 180º, drives forward, turns to the right about 45º, drives forward, turns to the left again, and it's right in line with the 20-point zone. Three, two, one, and it charges directly for the two raised pipes marking the zones. The mobile goal manipulator lowers, and the cone is deposited into the farthest zone.
Uly and Maddy, my two "coaches" who were allowed to come up to the field with me while the other three sit in the stands, are practically bouncing with relief. Our alliance partner (another team with whom we are paired up with) looks glad that Blue won, as well. Unfortunately, it's not over yet.
"The driver control period will commence in three... two... one... drivers, begin!" And C is off, my thumbs dancing across the joysticks, my other fingers poised above the buttons for the mobile goal manipulator. The left side controls the left drive, the right controls the right. int(AllDrive) = 127; 127 might be a little too fast! Oh well, we'll change it later. For now, blue mobile goal on the left. Blue mobile goal. Drive, point turn to the left, drive, mobile goal manipulator down, drive, there we go, mobile goal manipulator up, turn, slowly, slowly so the goal doesn't fall out, now go go go and drop it in the ten! It's in! Back up, point turn to the right, let's go get the other blue goal. Uh oh, Red's playing defense. I can try to sneak right past them... Yes! Got it! Back up, point turn, in-in-in-in-in, drop it, and it's in the ten as well!
Time's running out! Go park! Remember, we checked the rules this morning and it's an extra two points if you're even the slightest bit touching your color square. Go go go– Damn! Cones in the way of my square– Push them! I'm in.
I drop my arms, still holding the controller. My eyes dart around the field, totalling the points scored by both teams in my head. Red got two in the five, one in the twenty, ooh but also highest stack in the five, that's thirty-five, plus two cones, thirty seven. We have one in the twenty, two in the ten, highest stack in the ten, auton, and parking. Looks like our alliance partner stacked three on a stationary goal as well... eighty seven? No, I'm doing the math wrong, but it doesn't matter because we won!
"Good game." Red and Blue face each other and give congratulatory handshakes down the line. Maddy is grabbing the robot, and it looks like the judges are still working on the score, but it's clear where the victory goes. After they give the all-clear, I unplug my controller, and all twelve people dash over to the scoreboard. It's scrolling through the forty or so teams at this tournament... scrolling... C's in first! The other three teammates have joined us in the rush. Everyone smiles at each other before walking back out of the gym to replace the robot's battery.
This isn't the end. We might be in the lead now, but there are three more games to play, and then we go on to the elimination round. But for now, we're winning, so let's celebrate. Keep your guard up. Stay in the zone.
|This is a map of the field.|
(The results: we made it to semifinals and lost. The other Kent high school teams, W and E, also lost in this round. The middle school team, R, made it to finals and lost as well. C may not have won any awards today, but it was only the first tournament of the season. The next one's in January, and we'll have improved a lot by then.
For starters, we'll have a lift (the tall part for picking up cones). We ran out of time before this tournament and couldn't attach ours, hence only being able to manipulate mobile goals. When the lift is added we'll connect two controllers. One person will work the lift and one the drive. I'm looking forward to this. Less responsibility on me.)