Robotics Teams Find Success

This past season, Berkeley High School’s (BHS) robotics team, 5419, reached the semifinals of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) in Sacramento and won the Creativity Award, sponsored by Xerox. FRC team 5499, which is composed of many BHS students but not officially affiliated with the school, reached the finals of a competition in San Francisco and won the Autonomous Award, sponsored by Ford.

For Team 5419, their success at the recent competition was the product of months of hard work. During the team’s three month build season, members met four to five times a week after school. In order to efficiently build highly complex robots, each member performed a certain job. The robot the team builds each year is designed to play a different “game,” whose guidelines are released by FRC.

Lucas Bedolla Garcia, a junior on team 5419, expalined how the team had to create a robot that could pick up plastic balls or discs and put them into a “rocket.” During each qualifying round of the FRC regional in Sacramento, alliances of three teams would compete against each other using their robot. The team with the most points at the end could progress to the next round.

The team decided to build a robot that used a mechanism similar to an elevator lift to move the game pieces. They competed for two and a half days at the competition against other high school teams from around the world.

Although they did not reach the finals, they were awarded the Creativity Award based upon the ingenuity and execution of their elevator lift design.

Team 5499 participated in a different FRC regional, but underwent a similar process to prepare. Nicholas Underwood, a sophomore, is a programmer for  Team 5499. During build season, he met with the other members every single day in a machine shop.

To build their robots, said Underwood, first the team creates a strategy about what elements should be prioritized, and then creates prototypes for various mechanisms. Following these steps, Team 5499 built a similar robot to Team 5419, incorporating a vertical moving element. Their robot was able to operate without manual aid from team members.

Based upon their results in the qualification matches in the competition, Team 5499 was selected by another team to form an alliance, which gained points and progressed together through the rounds. They made it to the finals, won second place and received the Autonomous Award, which was awarded because their robot did not need any human help. Their win also qualified them for the Houston championships.

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