Students on Oak Bay High’s robotics teams are getting their last league match in before the regional finals in February.
The league competition takes place Saturday, Jan. 19 at Oak Bay High, with the action beginning at 1 p.m.
It’s the second year the school has had a robotics team competing in the international First Tech Challenge (FTC). The FTC is a robotics competition where teams of students build robots that compete in games. Oak Bay High has 20 students working in two teams this year, each with a different strategy. Robo is a robot designed like a tank that will try to go through and over obstacles, whereas Obor is designed to manoeuvre around quickly.
Teacher Jeffrey Laird says this year they’re competing in space landing-themed games where the robots try to collect “minerals” from a course designed with various obstacles.
“There’s two stages to the game. There’s an autonomous one — so the first 30 seconds is several challenges where the robots are acting on their own. They either have to be able to look around and figure out and find where the things are, or be programmed as such so they can complete the task. The points that they score in autonomous are a lot more than when the driver control period takes over,” Laird said.
“After 30 seconds, the students take control of the robot using basically Xbox controllers, and they get to accumulate more points by collecting these minerals and bringing them back.”
Competing is also cooperative, he said. Robots are paired up with other competing robots at random. Sometimes Robo and Obor work together, sometimes they work alongside competing programs. At Oak Bay High, this means that both teams share problem solving and programming expertise. Competition wide, there have been occasions of other programs lending and sharing parts to keep the bots rolling.
“Robo’s main central nervous system exploded the other day when the kids crashed it into something,” Laird said. “One of the other teams lent us a spare part that they had so that our robot could be operational for this Saturday.”