Talk to anyone on a robotics team and they will tell you the same thing: FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC, has changed their lives. FRC is a high school robotics competition that can proudly boast of over 2000 teams. FRC offers invaluable experience for a high school student in science, engineering and technology. It teaches students life skills and transforms kids to adults.
Kickoff, a highly anticipated event, marks the beginning of the build season. It is where the new competition is unveiled. We are given six weeks to design a robot to compete in the game announced. Each year the game is different and we need to strategize heavily before building the robot. Our robot is usually around 120 pounds. During this time, our design team, prototype team, electrical team, and programming team work together to build a robot. The end of build season is marked by Ship Day, which is when the robot is packed up and shipped to our first competition site.
2014: Aerial Assist
The 2014 game, Aerial Assist, is all about teamwork. The goal of the game is to shoot exercise balls into either the high or low goals. Each match begins with a 10-second autonomous period in which one of each high and low goals are lit up for 5 seconds each. These “hot” goals award the scoring team an additional five points. After the autonomous period, the remaining time of the game is dedicated to earning points by passing the ball from robot to robot. Each “assist” is worth an additional ten points. Spanning the middle of the field is a metal structure called the “truss” which teams can pass the ball over, in order to be awarded another ten points. All points from assists are allocated when the ball is scored. For more information, please visit this link.
2013: Ultimate Ascent
The 2013 game is known as “Ultimate Ascent”, an ultimate Frisbee match with its own spin. The object of the game is to shoot or eject Frisbees into slots of various heights, and the higher up the slot is, the more points are gained. The match begins with a 15 second autonomous period where the robots are not controlled by the drivers but still should attempt to shoot Frisbees. At this time, teams will earn twice the amount of points if the Frisbees enter the goals as they would in the tele-operated period. During “teleop”, the robots are driven and teams can shoot their Frisbees into the slots, or they may aim them at the top of a pyramid on their side of the field to gain more points. This year’s end game is for the robots to climb these three-rung pyramids and based on the level they climb to, they gain a certain number of points. Human players at this stage may also attempt to throw disks into their goals. For more information about the game, check out this link.
2012: Rebound Rumble
The 2012 challenge, Rebound Rumble, stays true to its name as it shakes up your perception of basketball. It consists of 2 minutes and 15 seconds of robot action along a field with four basketball hoops on each side: one high, two middle and one low. Disrupting the center of the court is a thick metal bar offset by three bridges.
The main object of the game is to score as many baskets as you can. Robots may only carry three balls at a time and they must do their best to gain points while still avoiding the other alliance.
Typically, the first 15 seconds of the game is known as autonomous because the robots run strictly on preprogrammed code with no driver input. This year, however, the period of time is known as the hybrid period because teams have the option to partially control the robot using an Inbounder (human player) and an Xbox Kinect. The catch is that only one team on each alliance may use it.
After this 15 second period, the match progresses onto the teleoperated stage where the driver and operator are controlling the robot. Scoring in the top basket is worth 3 points, the middle basket 2 points, and the bottom basket 1 point. Usually, the match ends with a specified end game; this is not the case this year, but the end of the match is still critical. Robots can choose to attempt to balance with their alliance on their designated bridge on the field, or they can balance on the center coopertition bridge with a robot of the opposite alliance. The point value for balancing with another robot on your alliance is 20 points. Coopertition is a philosophy in FIRST that combines both cooperation and competition.
For more information on this game please visit: Rebound Rumble.
Logomotion is a celebration of FIRST’s twentieth year anniversary. The object of the game is to to pick up inner tubes shaped like triangles, circles, and squares and arrange them on a pegboard (creating the FIRST logo earns you extra points). The autonomous period of the game, where the robot must function without drivers controlling it, is fifteen seconds long. The robot must pick up "uber-tubes" and place them on the pegboard. During the teleoperated period, where the robot is driven, the inner tubes are arranged on the board. The minibot, which can be deployed in the last ten seconds of the match, must race to the top of a ten-foot vertical pole.
In an effort to broaden the audience of FIRST robotics and in recognition of the World Cup, the 2010 FRC game, Breakaway, was a modified version of soccer. Competing in alliances of three, teams would attempt to score as many balls into their respective goals as possible, all while traversing large bumbs that split the field into thirds. In the 'finale' of each match, robots could suspend themselves off of a tower for a bonus.
The object of Lunacy was to shoot "moon rocks" into trailers attatched to your opponents' robots. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, Lunacy was played on a surface specifically designed to imitate the Lunar Regolith, the low traction surface of the moon. In the last twenty seconds of each match, special game pieces called Super Cells could be scored into the robots' trailers, holding a much higher point value than the Moon Rocks. A fast paced, high intensity game, Lunacy was an exciting game for all.