Robotics team competes in regionals

By: Yan Jia

Photo courtesy of Peter Froud:

The Gunn Robotic Team (GRT) won first place in the Baltimore Regional of the First Robotics Competion (FRC) league and qualified for the world championships, which will be held at St. Louis, Missouri.  From March 31 through April 1, GRT participated in the Silicon Valley regional of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), held at San Jose State University, but they were unfortunately eliminated due to several technical difficulties.

According to senior Hovhannes Avagyan of the shooting team, which makes the mechanism that shoots the basketball into the hoop, the robots shot consistently during practice. “When our robot was working, it worked really well and we got a lot of compliments from other teams,” Avagyan said.

However, several problems hindered GRT from performing well in the Silicon Valley Regional, primarily in communication and tracking. Two computers guide the robot’s movements; one controls motor speed and communication, while the other does calculations for automatic shooting and tracking for hoops. “These two computers weren’t working together, and we had problems communicating with the field,” senior Paulo Mehech said. “Our programs for shooting didn’t work anymore so we had been shooting manually and doing defense by blocking other robots.”

Although this problem was eventually resolved, there were additional problems throughout the competition. “It was very dark in there, so the camera had trouble finding the baskets,” GRT Advisor Bill Dunbar said. “It’s heartbreaking because [the robot] was doing very well when the students were practicing.”

Even though GRT was eliminated from the Silicon Valley Regional, they can still compete in the World Championships. The controls group will work on making the robot’s aiming better and others will also do research on the other teams that will be going to championships. “We won’t let the regional discourage us for our next competition,” senior Sonal Prasad said. “We have a great robot, a talented team and an amazing mentor.”  Dunbar agrees. “There are always some things that we can do better, but I prefer to concentrate on the things that we already done well and right now is the good time to celebrate the things that we have done well,” he said.