New Year brings new Robot from Madera High School Robotics!

Blue Dolphin Engineering has been helping sponsor Madera High School’s “MadTown Robotics” for the past 7 years along with her partner companies B-K Lighting, TEKA Illumination and Star Finishes.

Our support, along with other companies like Boeing, have helped fund Madera High’s robotics teams to compete in the annual FIRST robotics challenge tournaments. What is FIRST all about?
Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) because he wanted to combine America’s cultural obsession of sport competition and entertainment along with science, engineering and technology to get students energized and interested in the pursuit of science-based careers. He teamed up with NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project (RAP) to help coordinate, plan competitions and provide a network of mentors who work alongside local volunteer faculty and industry leaders.

For the 2012 challenge, MadTown Team1323 was tasked by FIRST to create a semi-autonomous robot that could perform a basketball shot challenge called “Rebound Rumble.” Team engineers had to meet certain weight, height and physical obstacle conditions in addition to competition and interference from other team’s robots. You can find all of the competition details here.

Essentially the goal of the game was to retrieve foam basketballs off the floor and shoot them into a variety of hoop heights and positions. Teams were to include a hands-off, pre-programed portion and for the live competition could include Kinect-based recognition control systems, camera feeds and direct drive control. Teams could also win weighted points through cooperative coordination on obstacles.

Team1323 stopped by Blue Dolphin Design and Engineering on December 18, 2012 for their annual competition report and brought along ETR9: ZERO (also known as the Autobot Kobe). The team demonstrated the robot’s agility and aggressive performance in a video from the competition but also demonstrated live its canny ability to efficiently retrieve the basketballs. The robot is approximately 3 square feet by 4½ feet tall. The speed of the robot was startling.

One of the most interesting features the robot demonstrated was its camera/ejection-port turret “head” which gave the team a wide range of shot options and the ability to independently move the bot as they scanned for more balls or potential enemies on the field. The robot also featured the ability to more than double its total height via a pneumatic piston system. When the machine was placed close to the hoops, the robot raised itself and dropped the balls rather than shooting them through the air as a human might. Team1323’s wondrous creation had no problem banking shots from the free-throw line and maintained an approximate (and amazing) 90% shot accuracy.

Team1323 was able to advance to the 2012 International FIRST Championship in St.Louis, Missiouri but were closed out by some of the more cooperative scoring teams. We congratulate them on a fine performance and look very forward to next year’s challenge!

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