Robots from Antelope Valley (2339) and Lancaster (399) high school robotics teams join up at the San Diego regional competition to balance on the tilting bridge. › View Larger Image
Lancaster High School's robot, the X-1, shoots high and scores another basket at the San Diego FIRST regional. › View Larger Image Two high school robotics teams co-sponsored by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center made it to the final round of the FIRST Robotics regional competition March 2 -3 in San Diego. Unfortunately, the teams from Antelope Valley and Lancaster high schools were part of a three-team alliance that lost out to another alliance in two matches in the championship round, thanks to technical glitches that plagued their robots.
However, Lancaster High's Eagle Robotics team has two more chances to qualify for the national robotics championships in St. Louis in late April during two more regional competitions latter this month, and Antelope Valley's Robolopes have already been invited to participate in the St. Louis event, scheduled for April 26 – 29.
This year's FIRST Robotics "Rebound Rumble" game involves robots shooting foam basketballs into an array of four basketball hoops with backboards on each end of the court, with points awarded each time a ball goes into one of the hoops. Additional points can be awarded at the end of the match if the robot – or several robots - can balance on see-saw like bridges atop low metal barriers that are located at various spots on the court.
The AVHS Robolopes, FRC team 2339, played their first matches with a low shooter strategy, and then switched strategy to become a feeder and support robot in their remaining matches. Although the strategy was effective, their robot's primary computer failed for two matches, jeopardizing their chances to move on. Thanks to some assistance from the LNHS Eagle Robotics mentors, however, the Robolopes robot got back in the game, ranking 33rd out of the 56 teams at the end of the qualification matches with a record of four wins and six losses with no ties.
Edwards Air Force Base Engineer and Team 399 mentor Brian Hopton and Jackie Patton of Lancaster High's Eagle Robotics Team 399 test their software prior to their next match. › View Larger Image Lancaster High's Eagle Robotics, FRC Team 399, also experienced some computer coding problems during the two-day competition. However, the team's robot, nicknamed "X-1," found success in scoring points from just below the baskets, placing in the top 5 in basketball scoring at the competition. The team finished in 10th place after the qualification matches with a record of 5-4-1.
The AVHS and LNHS teams were selected by FRC Team 1138 from West Hills, Calif., to join them on the sixth-seeded alliance in the final rounds of the competition. During the elimination matches, the alliance of teams 1138, 399, and 2339 averaged 45 points – about three times the average point totals of other alliances – and qualified for the regional's championship matches. Technical glitches with X-1's targeting camera forced the Eagle Robotics team to target manually with no visual aids, and the alliance lost their last two matches.
During the closing awards ceremony Team 399 won the Motorola Quality Award that honors machine robustness in concept and fabrication. Both the AVHS and LNHS teams were assisted in fabrication of unique parts of their robots by the NASA Dryden experimental fabrication shop.
The Lancaster High Eagle Robotics team will have another chance at qualifying for the FIRST national championships at a regional competition in Salt Lake City March 16-18, and again in Denver March 22-24.
A third team co-sponsored by NASA Dryden, Tehachapi High School's Cyber Penguins Team 585, will compete in a regional event in Seattle on March 22 -24th and again in Las Vegas on April 5 – 7.
View video of the Lancaster and Antelope Valley high school robots demonstrating their capability to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition's "Rebound Rumble."