Robots designed and built by students for the 2011 FIRST Robotics competition hung as many plastic shapes on their scoring grid as possible in a two minute and fifteen second time frame. This year, the students were tasked with training their robots to get as many basketballs in the hoops as they can in a two minute and fifteen second match. Rebound Rumble was this year’s theme. Two competing teams, each with three robots competed to score as many basketballs in the hoops as they could during a two minute and fifteen second match. The higher the hoop in which the basketball is scored, the more points the team receives. The match begins with a fifteen second bonus Hybrid Period. This is the time in which robots operate independently of driver inputs. During this period, one robot from each team may be controlled using a Microsoft Kinect. The match ends with robots attempting to balance on bridges located in the middle of the field.
With a short amount of time to design, build, program, and test their robots, the students still had to have met the season’s engineering challenge. In that time, they took on real-world engineering obstacles with the help of peers, NASA engineers, and higher education institutions teaching the students all necessary information and processes of real-world situations. The FIRST robotics competition is part of NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project. Its aims are to expand the number of robotics systems experts available to NASA. Not only is this a lively and engaging friendly competition, it is a simple test to discover highly intelligent students who will one day be our future for our developing technology-based nation.
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