Robotics Team is Ready for 2014 Challenge



Matt Lanetti

Building on their success from last year, Malvern’s robotics team “1168” is ready to go. Last year’s challenge of climbing pyramids and shooting frisbees was certainly difficult, but it was no match to the combined effort of Malvern and Villa.

In 2013, 1168 won numerous trophies for their unique and creative design. 1168 was one of two teams on the east coast successful in building a robot that could climb to the peak of an 8 foot tall pyramid.

Each year, the rules to the ever-changing games are rather complex.  However they do tend to be based on a simple premise.  “The competitions always find a new way to challenge us, but we can take it,” says Brian Sayers ‘15.

This year’s challenge doesn’t involve a pyramid, which is disappointing considering 1168 excelled with last year’s pyramid.  Rather, it involves launching 28 inch balls through goal posts. On a basketball court sized arena, robots will attempt to shoot 2-foot diameter exercise balls through different sized goals. Extra points are scored if the teams of robots use assists and passes throughout the game.

At the start of each 2 ½ minute match, robots will be given a 10 second autonomous period, where they are not controlled by human team members, but by preprogrammed code. Goals made in this short period will earn additional points. Other ways of scoring points include passing a ball over a 6 foot tall truss that spans the arena at its midpoint, and placing balls in metal frames located in the corners of the arena.

The league Malvern competes in is known as FIRST robotics. FIRST robotics has turned engineering into a sporting event, through nearly 3,000 competing teams throughout the world. The competition itself is truly a sight to see. Teams have matching uniforms and various types of chants to cheer on their robots. Despite all the colors and chants, the thing that sticks out the most about the competition is the sportsmanship displayed by all teams. When 1168 climbed to the top of the pyramid, the entire gym erupted with cheers for the Friarbot. It is very different than the “win at all costs” mentality that comes with many sports.

Although the idea of robots competing in sport is rather unique, Malvern and Villa’s combined team of 1168 is unique in itself. Entirely student run, 1168 is managed by the upperclass students who have experience with the program. Scheduling, engineering, budget, and responsibilities are all defined and assigned by the students themselves.

“Our robotics program is truly student run,” says Mr. Quinn, Malvern’s robotics mentor, “The mentors take pride in not touching the robot or coming up with ideas, it really is up to the students.”

“As a junior now, I, and the other upperclassmen, have a responsibility to teach the new students,” said Sayers

If you are interested in joining robotics, speak Tom Allen ‘14, Robotics CEO, or to Mr. Quinn.