Dr. Zeb Engberg
Wasatch Academy competed at the First Tech Challenge robotics competition at West High School in Salt Lake City on December 6 and 7. While Wasatch Academy has had a thriving robotics team in the past, it has been several years since we last competed. With a completely new set of students on team WARP and a first-year robotics coach, we were very much a rookie team going into the competition.
In the 24 hours leading up to the competition, dedicated WARP members Jens Evans, Roger Yang, Carter McPherson, Conner Sparks, Dreamie Thompson, and Arthur Zheng devoted themselves to upgrading our robot’s hardware and software. On Friday at noon, our robot was barely able to roll around when driven by a student. By Saturday morning, our robot had two functioning arms, a reliable wheelbase, and a robust autonomous (driver-less) component. We spent Friday night problem solving the many inevitable design catastrophes encountered along the way.
At Saturday’s competition, we were keenly aware of our inexperience. While our robot lacked in flashy features compared to some of the other robots at the competition, our design included several innovative features that stood out. We used a holonomic x-pattern for our robot wheelbase. This simple yet sophisticated drivetrain made our robot extremely maneuverable and agile on the playing field. Our robot could easily move in any direction independent of its orientation and it could simultaneously rotate while in motion. As the only team to use a holonomic drivetrain, we had one of the most nimble robots in the arena. Another distinguishing feature of our robot was its flexibility in autonomous mode. We coded six different autonomous programs that were capable of performing a number of different tasks depending on the strengths of our partner team. Our autonomous performance was on par with the strongest teams in the competition.
Overall, we were happy to place 19th in the competition. More important than our ranking, we left West High School feeling inspired and reinvigorated to continue enhancing our robot for the next competition in early February. In true Wasatch-style, our robot has several unique strengths that we are eager to refine and improve.