From April 22-25 Team 2168 competed in the Galileo Division at the World Championships in St. Louis, one division of 75 among 8 divisions totaling 600 of the best teams from around the world. The team got a generous grant from the Groton Board of Education that covered the entrance fee and a part of the travel fee for this event, or we might not have been able to attend at all. To lighten travel costs Team 1124 Uberbots generously shared their bus with Team 2168 so the two teams embarked on a 21 hour journey towards St. Louis on April 21. Arriving in St. Louis the Aluminum Falcons quickly moved to make all necessary modifications to the robot, adding a bin retainer on the top of the lift to support stacks and finalizing a ramp that the team planned to tether to the robot in order to facilitate loading from the human player station. Team 2168 also made plans to install bin grabbers that would be able to “steal” bins from the step during autonomous mode, a game mechanic that would prove very important at this competition.
During the days of the competition the drive team improved on loading and stacking totes from both the human player station and the landfill as the programming and mechanical team worked to perfect an autonomous that could successfully grab bins. As alliance selection neared the team knew this was a critical feature and the Falcons had several successful runs on the practice field. As a result of hard work and perseverance the team ranked 20th out of the 75 teams in the Galileo Division. The Falcons were then selected as the second pick for the top ranked alliance of Team 2836 Beta and Team 2067 Apple Pi, both teams from Connecticut. The third pick was Team 1 The Juggernauts from Michigan. In the first quarterfinal match the alliance put up 177 points, but needed a better score to move onto the semifinals. The alliance decided to put in Team 1 in place of 2168 for the next match to maximize the score as the Falcons were more effective at can grabbing than stacking. The maneuver payed off and the alliance scored 226 points to move into the semifinals. 2168 moved back in for the first two semifinal matches but costly mistakes by the alliance yielded low scores. Putting Team 1 back in for the final semifinal match was not enough and the alliance did not move on.
While the Falcons were hoping to go all the way it was still a great performance and their best finish ever at the World Championships. It was an incredible experience for the students, mentors, and parents attending because they were able to see and interact with the best teams in the world and watch the final matches on the Einstein Field. The Falcons would like to give thanks to our amazing alliance partners for a fantastic ride and to Team 1124 for being awesome bus buddies. As the regular season comes to a close the Falcons are eager to compete in offseason competitions. The team is also eager to once again attempt to make it to Champs in 2016!
On May 23rd and 24th the Aluminum Falcons competed at BattleCry@WPI in Worcester. Battlecry is a very competitive event and had 55 teams this year, so it is almost as large as the District Championship. This was also the final robotics event for the ten seniors on the team, many having played a pivotal role on the team for the past 4 years.
After months of continued mechanical improvement on the robot Team 2168 was fully prepared for Battlecry. On the first day of the event the Falcons were flying high, holding their own with some of the best in New England and being ranked second by the end of the day. The team even had several successful 20 point autos. The Falcon’s autonomous had evolved to a point where the robot could spin the recycling bins out of the way without the help of other robots and then intake and stack the three yellow totes. This success was the culmination of months of work by the team’s remarkable programming crew. Team 2168 held their rank at second through the conclusion of qualification matches the next day, coming in right behind Team 195 The Cyberknights. For their first pick the Aluminum Falcons selected World Championships partner Team 2067 Apple Pi to be on their alliance. The second pick for each alliance at Battlecry was out of a hat, but because the event had 55 teams there were two "blank slips" in the hat to even out the alliance. 2168 ended up with one of the blank slips. This meant that for the “eight-finals” the Falcons could pick essentially any team that was not an alliance captain. After the eighth-finals the Falcons would then pick a non-captain from any eliminated alliance to compete for the rest of the playoffs.
For the eighth-finals Team 2168 selected Team 228 GUS. The alliance scored 218 points in both matches, setting high scores for the day. Because Team 228 was selected by the other alliance with the blank slip the Falcons selected Team 4564 Orange Chaos to round out the alliance. In the first quarterfinal match the alliance once again set a high score with 234 points, and the Falcons advanced into the semifinals and then moved into the finals against the top ranked alliance of Team 195 Cyberknights, Team 125 Nutrons, and Team 716 Who’sCTEKs.
In the first game of the finals, the #1 alliance got all 4 of the recycling bins off the step. However, the Falcons and their alliance partners worked furiously to build stacks with the cans they had and then kept stacking. Coupled with mechanical problems with the Cyberknight’s robot the Falcons won the first match decisively by a score of 209-116. In the second match Apple Pi was able to secure 2 bins off the step and the other alliance only got 1. Utilizing this advantage the Falcons and their partners cruised to a 213-132 victory.
This was Team 2168’s second consecutive win at Battlecry and their third in four years. The seniors on the team were thrilled to end the season and their time on the team with a big win, and it was a thrilling conclusion to an up and down season for the Aluminum Falcons. While many team members are graduating, the Falcons now look towards next season with high hopes and large goals, and it is certain they will continue to soar to new heights.