Robotics looks ahead to new tournament, members

Wesley Woo, Author

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Palo Alto High School’s robotics team will look to improve on its previous performances as it prepares for the second tournament of the school year this weekend.

The upcoming CalGames tournament will be at Woodside High School this Friday and Saturday.  Junior Build Captain Claire Kokontis, in charge of designing the physical components of the robot, said that the format of the tournament will follow that of the last tournament.

“The [goal of the] competition is to shoot this big yoga ball into a goal that’s six or seven feet high,” Kokontis said. “You’re paired up with two or three other robotics teams that form an alliance.  Alliances will compete against each other, and you can get points not only for scoring goals but also passing to other robots.  [After] the main matches, if you’re in a high enough ranking, you go onto elimination matches and you can win the whole competition.”

According to Kokontis, the team did not have a lot of success at the previous tournament, Chezy Champs at Bellarmine College Prepatory. The team finished last, which drove it to change a lot of aspects of its robot.

“We’re hoping to make our shooter wheels more accurate,” Kokontis said.  “In past competitions, it’s been kind of spotty, but … we have two weeks to refine it and to refine some other functions in our robot to make it as smooth as possible.”

robotics

Junior Build Captain Claire Kokontis (center) makes adjustments to the robotics team’s robot. The team will look to improve on its previous performance as it prepares for the CalGames tournament this weekend. Photo by Wesley Woo.

Programming Captain sophomore James Ngo added that some of the programming components of the robot required alterations as well.

“Basically, we made it easier for the robot to be controlled for the operator and the driver,” Ngo said. “We also implemented a new autonomous [code] and we tried to do some speed [adjustments], but that didn’t work out too well.  Autonomous is a period of time where no human can control the robot, so we have to pre-program the robot to do everything.”

In addition to the tournament, the team is also looking forward to the arrival of new members following the application process. Because robotics is a year-long extracurricular, some tournaments early in the school year, like the upcoming one, occur without any added new members.

“Every year we give out applications just for some contact information and reaching out to people and asking them why they’re interested in joining the team,” Kokontis said.

Sophomore Kenny Cheung, the team’s official offseason competition manager, reiterated that applicants are not required to have any previous experience with robotics.

“We want people who are dedicated,” Cheung said.  “We don’t care if they don’t know anything [about robotics]: as long as they show up every time, they’ll learn stuff and they’ll become a part of the team.”

The deadline for turning in applications for the team this year is Oct. 2.  Applicants can turn in their information to the Robotics Lab or CL-2.

The CalGames will be from 3:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Friday and 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.