BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Team RUSH 27 finished the last of their tweaking and are set to make another run to win another FIRST World Championship this week in Detroit.
“We know what to expect in term of competition,” said senior Val Vargas. “We know what to expect in terms of competition. We know what to expect in terms of time management and skills we’re going to have to be applying. We are not resting on our laurels. We are starting from scratch at a shot at winning.”
“We are ready,” added junior Dylan Mattice.
The team has been to four competitions this year and is 42-22-1 in official play. They are ranked 44 after earning 210 points.
Through the competitions they have tweaked their robot to help them with this year’s game.
It begins with grabbing a hatch panel then placing it in a rocketship. Then, they put cargo which are dodgeballs into the ship and the hatch keeps them in.
Vargas admitted they had challenges with their hatch retrieval mechanism.
“We have these plastic blue printed fingers and so this is how we collect the hatches,” she explained. “It was something we created halfway through the season. We completely redesigned our hatch mechanism to be more efficient and allow for more a larger range of driver error that way they can be faster and more precise in order to reduce cycle times.”
Vargas added they were able to make the plastic fingers right at the high school with 3D printing.
“We can quickly produce prototype and actual parts for the robot,” said sophomore Audrey DeKoninck. “It really helps.”
“You can see the innovation right before your eyes because it only takes a few hours for a new prototype to be developed,” Vargas said. “We use computers in the room to do the CAD software. Then, it is a whole in house manufacturing, design, print, put together – all in house. One of our sponsors, C&C Parts Online, donated over 200 hours of training and help us set up. It expedited our manufacturing and prototyping process which allowed us to do so much more with our robot.”
She added as part of the robot’s design the arm has a 180 degree range of motion.
“The whole idea is we wanted to be able to manipulate the game pieces – the hatches and the cargo on both sides of the robot in order to be more efficient and reduce our cycle time.”
The match opens with a sandstorm.
“Basically there are black curtains that come down so you can’t see the robot,” said Mattice. “Our sandstorm has been working well. We have been using the assistance of a camera but we shifted to totally autonomous to minimize driver error. Just have the machine do it instead of worrying about the human messing with it. It’s been a challenge. It was working pretty well here in our practice spot.”
“The whole sandstorm concept is cool because it is newly introduced this year. in past years it would be autonomous programmed fully,” said DeKoninck. “This year we can combine them.”
The last 30 seconds of the match, teams have to get their robot onto a platform which has three levels. The highest level earns the team more points.
“Our goal is to climb up on the highest level constantly,” said Mattice. “Either you have to use a camera to help guide your robot to the game pieces or you use an autonomous code so the robot can do it on it’s own. We have had a combination of both.”
“Our climber has been working really well – super consistent,” Vargas said. “Our arm has taken some fine tuning but it has been working well.”
Team RUSH 27 competed in the Michigan State Championship – DTE Energy Foundation Division in mid-April and finished in the quarterfinals and earned 90 points.
It was the last competition they had before they go into worlds this week.
“States gave us a wake up call,” Mattice said. “States is every robot out there has some unique ability.”
“We’re optimistic. We have had a lot of opportunities to learn and to improve throughout this season and throughout our past competitions,” said Vargas. “We have made adjustments we have done all the practices. We continue to make our robot better throughout the last ten weeks. We are excited to give it all we’ve got. We had a couple of matches at the state championship where you got a glimpse of the full potential we have. We are hoping to tap into that potential and go 110 percent.”
They added the world championship being in Detroit also helps.
“The energy levels definitely stay up,” Vargas said, adding they won’t have a overnight 12-hour bus ride. “Now with it being so close in Detroit, we get to see our sponsors, our family and our fan bases are there. Also we can bring our tool shop and our resources in full force.”
“With it being so familiar and close it helps with the mindset and being optimistic because you don’t have the obstacles of being tired or getting in the way of what matters,” Mattice said.
“We have the unique opportunity to bring all the CSMTech students to the competition for a day to see what it’s like,” DeKoninck said. “They can wander around the pits, watch matches. Then also it’s a bigger group of people cheering for us which helps motivate the team.”
The FIRST World Championship begins on Wednesday. Team RUSH 27 is in the Tesla Division. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook at TeamRUSH27 or on www.thebluealliance.com.
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE