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Local robotics teams experience close matches in Duluth

The March 2-4 FIRST robotics match in Duluth resulted in close losses by both the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus teams. Pequot Lakes Patriotics came in at 33rd overall with the Pine River-Backus Backwoods Engineers finishing 36th. The challen...

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The March 2-4 FIRST robotics match in Duluth resulted in close losses by both the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus teams. Pequot Lakes Patriotics came in at 33rd overall with the Pine River-Backus Backwoods Engineers finishing 36th. PineandLakes.com Illustration

The March 2-4 FIRST robotics match in Duluth resulted in close losses by both the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus teams.

Pequot Lakes Patriotics came in at 33rd overall with the Pine River-Backus Backwoods Engineers finishing 36th.

The challenges posed to each robot alliance included: loading an "airship" with fuel consisting of whiffle balls worth one point for three delivered in the high goal or one point for nine delivered in the low goal; installing gears worth 40 points each in the airship; and concluding the match by climbing a rope into the airship, which was worth 50 points for each robot.

In the qualifying round, the alliance including Backwoods Engineers was outmatched in two of eight matches due to an alliance member having a broken robot that could not compete. To make matters worse, in another match an alliance member's robot malfunctioned in the early stages of the match. Being outnumbered 3-to-2 in these matches cost the alliance points that could easily have advanced the teams into the quarterfinals.

"We did not go on to quarterfinals, which was disappointing, as we had a very good robot," PR-B coach Mike Shetka said in an email. "While we lost those matches, we only lost by 5 points in one, and 35 points in the other. This is important, because each scoring event we competed for was worth a minimum of 40 points. We were only short one 'goal,' in these cases, delivering a single gear to the airship, of winning both matches. In our first match, we also came very close to winning, 8 points short, which would have boosted our rankings quite a bit."

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Photos from FIRST Robotics Match

Click to View -  http://bit.ly/2mnUTw5

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For the Patriotics, devastating losses occurred in the semifinals. Team mentor Nate Novak said two things separated them from victory: a loose battery and a foul. In one of the final matches the Patriotics' battery came disconnected before they made their climb into the airship, costing them 50 points in a competition they lost by 49 points. In another round an alliance member committed a foul and lost by one point.

"If we stayed connected we would still put more goals in the high goal and climb the rope and we would have won," Novak said. "The other one we lost by one point and we gave the other team five points on a penalty. It was super close."

Novak said the Patriotics were excellent at loading fuel, but not so good at loading gears. The team excelled at climbing the rope into the airship. Their robot could climb the four feet and 10 inches into the airship in under five seconds. Had their battery not come disconnected, this strength may have resulted in a much higher ranking.

Shetka said the Backwoods Engineers were able to deliver four gears in each round, and excelled at the delivery. An even bigger strength was climbing. Shetka said the robot was capable of climbing the rope in one second at risk of damaging field equipment, so instead it climbed in two seconds. The team did not, however, put any effort toward fuel delivery due to the low value of fuel.

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Novak said there are still five weeks of competition to determine which teams will move to the state tournament. The top 36 teams at the conclusion of those competitions will go on to state. Patriotics are currently ranked at 33, but they could be bumped down.

Related Topics: PEQUOT LAKES
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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