LIVINGSTON, NJ – Recently, the Landroids from the Livingston Robotics Club, earned the First Place Inspire Award--the highest award at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) East Super Regional competition. They will next advance to FTC World Championship at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, which will take place from April 23 to 26. The team was also the Winning Alliance Captain, which was earned from having the best robot performance at the competition. Additionally, the Landroids was nominated for the Control Award and the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award.
However, though this is the fourth time that team #4220 has consistently won a First Place Inspire Award, which is given to the most well-rounded team—achieving this status in 2014 is especially sweet because the competition stakes were raised.
According to Surasit Nithikasem, secretary of Livingston Robotics Club, due to the rapid growth in FTC, with 3,315 FTC teams in the United States alone, the competition to earn one of the one hundred spots allocated for the United States teams to the World championship is getting harder each year. Teams from the 50 states can no longer advance to the World Championship through either a merit-based Inspire Award or the best robot performance as the Winning Alliance Captain. This season, FIRST has introduced a new tier of competition called the Super-Regional to further screening of its 100 finalists from four different regions of United States. To compete, these teams have to be both a top contender in merit and robot performance.
Nithikasem explained that to start the 50 States were divided into four regions depending on the team population density. After the West and South held their Super-Regionals last month, both the East and the North FTC regions held their Super-Regional Championships simultaneously, and enlisted 72 States level winners at each championship.
Among the East Super-Regional were teams from Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. They all gathered at York, Pennsylvania for three days of judging interviews, field robot performance competitions, and rigorous evaluations in robot design, programming, computer-aided design (CAD), outreach and team spirit.
“The level of competitiveness and the intensity at the Super-Regional is essentially a mini-World Championship held three weeks earlier than usual,” said Landroids Coach John Yeh, who is also a Field Technical Advisor at the East Super-Regional.
As teams set up their elaborate 10’x10’ pit to display their work and robots, the closed-door judging interview, robot inspections, and the “meet ’n greet” were also in full swing. On the third morning, each team had been randomly paired with different alliances and opponents to endure eight rounds of robot qualifying matches to determine their team rankings. The top four teams in each division selected their own alliance partners to control their robots to perform the “Block Party” challenge missions, which were essentially the collecting and dispensing of blocks in the crates that were balanced on a pendulant, raising the flag, climbing up on the ramp and hanging on the bar in a 12’ x 12’ play field with three other robots.
“The scoring strategy and the robot design had to adapt and morph throughout the season,” Karina Yeh, the Landroids Driver Coach who strategized and guided the robot drivers during the competition matches. “By now, most teams can complete all of the missions faster and faster, the game changer is the ability for both robots from the same alliance to hang on the bar at the end game. Our ability to have an interchangeable design that can quickly adapt to other robots to enable a double hang with our partners, gave us a very competitive edge on the field.”
For the elimination rounds, the Landroids selected Wreckers Robotics from Connecticut and the Metal Marauders from New Jersey, and successfully edged out all competitors from both divisions with a highest score of 411 points in one match to earn the Winning Alliance Captain title as the robotics Champ at the East Super Regional.
This year, they achieved this win with only a four-member team of: sophomore Karina Yeh and three seniors: Gage Farestad, Brian Lee, and Ivana Chu. Even with only four members, Nithikasem said that the Landroids has remained in the top robot ranking all season. At the East Super-Regional, the team was ranked number three in its division out of 36 teams.
“As all of the origin members are graduating from high school this year to pursue science and engineering degrees, this is the last World Championship for these older Landroids,” said Coach Pearl Hwang. “With only three weeks to raise funds to attend the World Championship, we hope to have the community support to make this graduation trip.”
Running a robotics team requires sponsors and some investment so that the team can purchase the equipment needed to build a robot. Right now, the Livingston Robotics Club is hoping to find a few local sponsors to help the Landroids represent Livingston at the World stage. Tax-deductible donations to “Livingston Robotics Club” will help the team’s legacy lead the way for the up and coming teams of the Club to follow. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit Landroids’ Facebook.
To read more about the Landroids, click HERE.