With a new space on campus, the Robotics team is looking for victory this season.
This year’s robotics season is already in full swing. The season officially started on January 3 with a kickoff at Upper Darby High School. However, the team prepared extensively before this meet. Many changes have taken place since the end of last year’s robotics season, including the construction of the Botcave and a new challenge.
One of the most significant changes of this season is the inclusion of the Botcave. Project Manager Joe Martin ‘15 says that “[The robotics team] has never had a space like this on campus.”
Located in the basement of Alumni Hall, this area is where the majority of Robotics-related activities take place. From homeroom to late at night, anything from the actual construction of the robot to team meetings take place here.
Before, the team would have to spend an hour after school, planning on how to get to its off site location, CTDI, with the most amount of people. The location underneath Alumni Hall was primarily used for storage and smaller projects.
However, seeing the potential this space had, the team decided that this location could be used much more effectively. The Robotics team and Director of Development Mr. Vic D’Ascenzo worked together to renovate this space into a much more functional space.
The result is an area where the majority of the construction of the robot can take place. A work bench has been added to both sides of the wall. Bright, fluorescent lights hang from the ceiling, allowing the team to work later hours in this new space. All of the team’s tools have a new, easily accessible location as well. Most importantly, there is a space to store the robot while the team is working on it.
“The team has a location on campus where we can work.” says Joe Martin ‘15, effectively giving them an extra hour of work each day.
Despite this, the Botcave has a few limitations. “It’s nice because it is on campus, ” remarks Matt Heisler ‘16. “But it is a bit smaller than CTDI.” There is an adjoining room right next to the Botcave, but it remains unfinished. The team is working on generating the funds to renovate this room as well.
The time commitment within this year’s robotics team is enormous as well. For six days a week, team members work on perfecting the robot. On the weekdays, members work from 3:10pm to 6, almost 7pm. Members can come in on Saturdays as well.
Malvern’s robotics team competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Started in 1989, FIRST Robotics aims to facilitate robotics competitions between other schools and teams. FIRST Robotics also designs a new challenge every year.
This challenge usually requires teams to work with another team in an alliance. Two alliances then compete against each other head to head in order to accomplish a given task. Along the way, teams gain points and the team with the most points wins.
This year’s challenge is called “Recycle Rush”. The objective is to build stacks of tote boxes, place recycling bins on top of the stack, and then to place litter inside of the recycling bin on top. Teams can have alliances, where they can work together with another team.
At the start of every game, there is a small, 15 second autonomous period where robots can use preprogrammed code to move a set of initial tote boxes to a predetermined zone. Afterwards, teams can control their robots and start to attempt to stack boxes and recycling containers to gain points.
Teams may also try to gain points by throwing litter into the arena and having their robots place the litter into recycling boxes. Bonuses are awarded by completing other tasks as well, including a cooperative bonus for alliances that stack a certain group of boxes in a certain area.
With the Botcave and the new game in the minds of the Robotics team, many members are hopeful. In terms of goals for this season, Matt Heisler ‘16 says “I hope that we can do well in the first two preliminary competitions.” Joe Martin ‘15 hopes that the team can make regionals, as well as compete in districts.