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Robotics team to debut robot at first competition

Published March 6, 2014

The Palo Alto High School robotics team will compete this weekend at the Central Valley Regional robotics competition in Madera, Calif., marking the first appearance of its recently completed robot.

According to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition website, this year’s challenge, called “Aerial Assist,” is played by two competing alliances, each made up of three robots from different schools. The aim of the competition is to shoot as many 24-inch diameter inflatable balls into various goals within a two-and-a-half minute time frame.

To tackle this challenge, the team has equipped its robot with a wheeled shooter and an accumulator, according to team member junior Jason Zhou.

“The wheeled shooter consists of four wheels spinning at very high speeds,” Zhou said. “Our accumulator can accumulate balls, pass balls to our alliance and shoot balls into the low goal.”

Although winning the Central Valley Regional would guarantee Paly a spot at the national robotics competition, sophomore lab and pit manager Claire Kokontis said even if the team won, it would be unlikely that the team would attend.

“If we win this one, the Central Valley Regional, we get to go to nationals, but we probably won’t go even if we win because we haven’t reserved any hotels or transportation or anything like that,” Kokontis said.

Still, Kokontis said the team has put a lot of work into building the robot.

“We’re pretty well-prepared,” Kokontis said. “We had strategy meetings, figuring out what’s the most effective way to score as many points as possible. … We even have programs going to figure out what’s the way in the least amount of time we can get the most amount of points. I think our drive team knows what they’re doing, which is great.”

According to Kokontis, this year’s season has run smoother than last year’s.

“Last year, I remember we didn’t have a lot of people working on the robot at the very end of build season,” Kokontis said. “But this year we had a lot of teamwork, even the freshmen were contributing as well as seniors, so we were all working together, which is great. … It’s been a big improvement from last year and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Following the Central Valley Regional competition, which begins today and ends Sunday, March 9, the team will attend the Silicon Valley Regional competition from April 3 to 5.

Junior team member Rudra Aiyar said that even if the robot does not win this weekend, it will at least serve as a learning opportunity for the team.

“We hope to win the competition and learn from our mistakes if we don’t win,” Aiyar said.


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