The EDSS and Woodland Christian High School robotics teams both reached top 10 finishes at the First Robotics competition held last weekend at the University of Waterloo.
The two teams sent their intricately designed and apply named robots Sir Lancerbot (EDSS), and King Louie (Woodland Christian) into battle against 28 other schools from around southwestern Ontario.
The competition format required each school to team up with two other schools in 3-on-3 matches with the goal of bringing game pieces such as balls and cones from one side of the playing field to the other. Teams also scored points by docking on charge stations, all while avoiding their teammates and their opponents.
There was a high level of complexity to the competition, said Eli Sullivan, a driver with the Woodland Christian team.
“I’d say that the game is more complex this year, than last year, because last year, there’s just one game he had to find and it was kind of repeating the same sort of thing, but this time you can kind of have different combinations of the way you scored,” Sullivan said.
The cones were more challenging than the balls, said Hudson Jantzi, a driver and builder of Sir Lancerbot.
“With a ball you don’t think of which orientation, you have to go out a drive out to pick it up. With a cone, if it’s laying down or if it’s upright, how are you going to pick that up? It’s always different. So you have to adapt and make your robot work no matter what the situation is,” he explained of the challenge.
Teams were randomly selected for qualification rounds, while the schools were able to choose their teammates during the playoffs. Teaming up presents a challenge itself, said King Louie operator Tommy Madison.
“So sometimes it becomes a problem, because sometimes we’ll have it where our alliance member has a mechanical failure, and their robot isn’t performing up to the standards… we selected them for,” he said.
The two Woolwich-based schools teamed up once during the qualification round, and successfully defeated the eventual winners from Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catharines. After a day and a half of qualification rounds and an afternoon of playoffs, Sir Lancerbot and King Louie teams finished in fifth and seventh place respectively.
Besides the driver and the operator each team member played a role, said Laura Vandermeulen, a member of the leadership group and scouting team at Woodland.
“We have six people at a time scouting to collect match data, and then another two people figuring out the strategy to put it into a line selection so we can select the teams that we want to be allied with. The team is there cheering us on – it is a total team project,” she said.
The competition season is the end of a journey that started in September, while the actual building of the robot doesn’t start until January when teams find out the competition format.
“In September, and throughout the fall, we train.… We just train everybody in all the different sub-teams so that they kind of know how to do things when it’s go time,” said Felicity Frey, who is a part of the EDSS media and leadership team.
The students showed great strides in their learning, said Woodland Christian mentor Della Stroobosscher.
“In September, they didn’t know what kind of tools they needed to use. And at that competition, they were grabbing the exact tools they needed. They got into the exact place in the robot that needed repair, with very minimal guidance from the mentors.”
The teams will be competing at the provincial championship in Hamilton April 5-8.