Our first FIRST competition of the season is complete. We finished 25th in the qualifying standings and didn’t make it to the playoff rounds. We won the “Gracious Professionalism” award, apparently in large part to Woodie Flowers, president of Mechanical Engineering school at MIT and FIRST co-founder, who witnessed our driver calming down another team when things went wrong. And, we had a weekend with the robot out of the bag, where, between matches, we continued to work on our launcher, which is now almost fully armed and operational. Plus, we all had an incredible time, watching robots battle, talking with other teams in the pits, and soaking in the nerd heaven atmosphere that is a FIRST competition.
Without a launcher, our robot was limited to a defensive role for the competition. Our driver, Dan, proved an excellent strategist and was very good at blocking passes and keeping opposing robots boxed up in the first section, away from the goals. We did score some passes and even some low goals by bulldozing the ball around. One match was tied when the 30-second warning klaxon sounded, but the opposing alliance managed to pull ahead in those last 30 seconds. We ended up losing all three of our matches on Saturday.
At one point on Friday, the arena was having technical difficulties. Each alliance can only have a single ball on the field at a time (except during the autonomous period). There is a pedestal behind the drivers’ stations that lights up. Volunteers put balls on the pedestal when the light goes out, then the teams can take the balls and put them in play. At one point, the light wouldn’t go out, even though our alliance didn’t have any balls on the field. We couldn’t put any balls on the field. We were all upset, but the driver for another team on our alliance was very angry and was yelling at the volunteer manning the pedestal. Dan told him to cool it, and we think this is what impressed Woodie Flowers so much. The pedestal light issue happened in at least one other match. The refs did a lot of conferring about what to do, but in the end, they let the scores stand.
Check out the photo section for pictures of the competition.