Robots invade MU

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Danielle Kreider
Associate News Editor

On Sat. Mar 1st Millersville University’s Marauder Court was overrun by robots and their creators. The Millersville University Department of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology guest hosted the Pennsylvania FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) Championship Tournament which included grades 9-12 (ages 14-18). The FIRST Tech Challenge is an amazing robotics program for middle/high school students who want to experience science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with hands-on, minds-on activities – all with robots!

The 2013-2014 game is called the Block Party, it is played on a 12’x12’ square field with approximately 1’-high walls and a soft foam mat playing surface. Two randomly selected teams are paired together as an Alliance to play one match against a second Alliance.

Alliances are designated as either “Red” or “Blue.”

Scoring Elements are 100, 2”, 2oz. plastic blocks. These blocks are yellow and can be used by all robots. At the center of the field is an assembly that includes a center bridge, pull-up bar, and two pendulums – each with four “pendulum goal baskets.” Below the pendulums are floor scoring areas. An Infrared (IR) Beacon is randomly placed under one of the four goals on each pendulum after robots are placed on the field, but before the Autonomous period starts. The field includes tape to aid robot navigation and to mark protected areas. Each Alliance also has their own flagpole in opposite corners of the field. At the start of a match, blocks are located in the two corners at the front and back of the playing field and are distributed evenly with approximately 48 per corner at the start of the match. Each robot starts with one block which teams can pre-load onto their robot. Robots may not possess or control more than four blocks at any time. Each Alliance starts with their robots touching the outer field perimeter wall on their side of the playing field.

Matches have two distinct periods of play: a 30-second Autonomous period followed by a two-minute Driver-Controlled period, which includes a 30-second End Game.

Autonomous Period:
The Game starts with a 30-second Autonomous period where robots are operated via pre-programmed instructions only. Prior to the start of the match, an IR Beacon navigation aid is placed randomly on one of four pendulum goals. Autonomous blocks placed in the goal designated by the IR Beacon receive bonus points. Robots gain points in Autonomous by: driving to the bridge and parking partially or fully upon it, placing blocks in the floor-scoring area below the balance, or placing blocks in the pendulum goals.

Driver-Controlled Period:
During the Driver-Controlled period, teams retrieve up to four blocks at a time from one of two block zones and place them in pendulum or floor goals. Blocks may not be de-scored from the pendulum goals, but may be de-scored from the floor goals. Alliances may score blocks into their opponent’s pendulum goals, except during the End Game period.

End Game:
The final 30 seconds of the Driver-Controlled period is called the End Game. In addition to placing blocks in the scoring areas, robots earn points in the End Game by: raising their Alliance flag up a flagpole, raising themselves off of the ground using the bridge pull-up bar, and ending the match with a balanced pendulum.

All in all the object of the Game is to attain a higher Score than the opposing Alliance by placing Blocks in various Goals on the Pendulum or Floor Scoring Areas.

Participating teams in the tournament included: 365 MOE, 4433 Smokin’ Motors, 4977 LANLords, 4347 NanoGurus, 4311 Watt The Hex?, 4134 Wrench in the Works, 4999 Imagine It, 6045 foobar, 4077 MASH, 5169 Watts Up, 4149 Terabytes, 7056 The Cruzin’ Comets, 7690 MASH Triage Unit, 7244 Out of the Box Robotics, 7055 Cruzin’ Comets, 6208 Team Ratzo, 6022 TBD, 7058 Artificial Intelligence Recruits, 4127 BSOD – Blue Screen of Death, 4856 Minnie MASH, 61 Ozone, 3113 Some Disassembly Required, 4185 Silver Soldiers, 6964 Igutech, 6378 Jaybots, 7423 Flaming Phoenix, 5321 Tech Heroes, 5488 RoboDragons, 6552 N.E.R.D.S., 5320 RoboLancers Gold, 6191 Short Crcuits, 5205 SyBorgs, 7060 RobotiX, 7350 Watt NXT?, 6676 RoboLancers Crimson, 6640 Robotox and 118 Steel Hornets.

The tournament results are as follows:
Winning Alliance
Captain: 4977 LANLords
1st selected: 4433 Smokin’ Motors
2nd selected: 4347 NanoGurus

Finalist Alliance
Captain: 4999 Imagine It
1st selected: 61 Ozone
2nd selected: 7055 Cruzin’ Comets

Next in store for these robotics geniuses is that the top nine teams from the Pennsylvania FTC Championship Tournament will advance to the East Super-Regional Championship Tournament, which will be held April 3-5, 2014 at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania.

*Information courtesy of