Robotics team gears up for national competition

Jacob Deighton and Brian Grassi

DuRT will be competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) March 8. The tournament will run for three days at the Chaifetz Arena.

The team had six weeks to build their robot. They put the final touches on it Feb. 21 before wrapping it up to take to competition.

Each robotics competition has a set theme that the robots and tasks revolve around. The March competition’s theme is Steamworks.

Essentially, all of the teams’ objectives are to place fuel particles, represented by gears or balls, into a fuel boiler in order to power their airship. Some robots can shoot balls into a high or low boiler and some robots can place gears in specific locations. They will earn points by completing certain tasks.The team with the most points at the end of the match wins.

During the planned 15 second autonomous period, DuRT’s robot has to act on code alone. During that time, the robot will be directed to power the airship by delivering the gear to the center bit.

The human-controlled period of the match lasts two minutes and 15 seconds. In that time, DuRT will try to use their robot to pick up particles off the ground and dump them into the fuel boiler.

“Everyone will be focusing on the gears, which is the main thing,” senior Matthew Woodford said. “Unlike most teams, who will be focusing on completing tasks with big points, we want to be focusing on particles too. That will give us the edge.”

The robot is also designed to climb. One of the later tasks in the competition is to climb a rope, push against a plate at the top and stay there for a specific time. Senior Patrick Sanchez is in charge of controlling the robot and completing that and all other manual tasks.

“There’s a lot of adrenaline pumping and it’s quite crazy. Sometimes I even find myself getting caught in the moment like I’m playing a video game.

— Patrick Sanchez

This will be the final robotics competition of the year for DuRT. For the seniors, it will be the last robot they build with the team.

“Our robots have been like our children for a lot of us,” Woodford said. “I’ve always enjoyed watching all of our plans come together, so it’s sad that this will be my last time.”

If the team gets past the preliminary period of the tournament, depending on how well they do in that period, they will either be selecting a partner team’s robot or be selected by another team. Each two-robot team will compete in an eight team bracket-style tournament for the championship which will be held on April 26 at Chaifetz.

And with a large chunk of the team consisting of seniors, they are hoping to make this competition count.

“We are pretty confident,” Sanchez said. “We built a pretty good robot and we’ve got a lot of experience, so I think that we’ll do pretty well.”