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Robot competition starts in Richland
RICHLAND, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Athletes from 40 Southwest Michigan high schools are warming up for a big sporting event at Gull Lake High School
And here's the thing: all the athletes are actually robots.
Hundreds of students from all over the region spent the past two months building and tweaking their robots for this FIRST Robotics District Competition.
At the beginning of the season, each team is given a kit of common parts. The students then have six weeks to build a robot that will face off against other schools’ robots in the competition arena.
“The atmosphere’s much more like a Big Ten basketball tournament or a hockey tournament,” says Ken Ball, the adult mentor for Gull Lake High School’s FIRST Robotics team, known as the “Twisted Devils.”
Every year the students are presented with different challenges for their robots to overcome in order to win the match. This year’s arena features several “goals” for the robots to shoot at and two large metal-frame pyramids.
Junior Nathan Gibes explains the premise of the match: “We have to drive the robots, take them over to the loading stations, feed them a Frisbee, drive them back over towards the goal and shoot the Frisbees from across the field. Then you get extra points if you climb the pyramid.”
Ball adds, “That’s another part of what we teach: ‘What are the trade-offs? If we were to have a good climbing robot, would we sacrifice mobility? Would we sacrifice accuracy?’”
And what happens if a robo-athlete runs gets a robo-injury?
“There’s nothing you can do because you can’t go out onto the field to fix it and you can’t pull it out so it just has to sit there,” laughs Gull Lake freshman Alannah Dowd.
The FIRST Robotics District Competition at Gull Lake High School runs Friday and Saturday. It is free and open to the public.
For a schedule of events, click here: http://www.gulllakecs.org/gulllake/lib/gulllake/2013_Schedule_of_Events.pdf