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First Robotics: FCS Robotics Design Challenge

By Oliver Angert (Reporter ‘24)

First Robotics is an international robotics design competition that pits hundreds of different schools and robotics programs from around the world against each other, all aiming to design the best robot to complete a task. This year the team’s challenge is to lift game pieces and place them onto a special scoring grid while stopping the other team from scoring with those pieces. At first this seems like a simple task, but designing a robot to actually do is in actuality an extremely complicated endeavor. The challenge also has a teamwork aspect. There are two other teams working alongside you to accomplish the same goal and another three teams going against you. All of this adds up to a very difficult challenge.

This is a wooden copy of the scoring grid built for us to practice lifting the game pieces into place. While the wide platforms for the inflatable cubes are very forgiving, trying to place the cones on the skinny little poles can be very difficult. Here, precision is key, which is a difficult thing to accomplish when you are piloting a robot with only a rudimentary grabbing arm.

Here, we have the charge station. One of the other tasks our robot has to be able to do is balance on this. While at first the surface appears to be flat, looks can be deceiving. It actually wobbles back and forth like a seesaw, making it very difficult to center the robot on it, but the real challenge comes from balancing the other two robots on it at the same time. Then it becomes a true test of coordination.

This is where all of the magic happens. It is the mechanical guts of our robot. The steering, the gripping, and the arm rotation all are controlled right here, and you could be the one building it next year! The robotics team is always looking for new members, and while it’s a bit too late to join now, the team will be happy to have you for next year’s season.

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