Students from over 600 schools gathered in St. Louis, Mo. last week to pit the best robotics teams from around the world against each other in a four-day tournament full of excitement and anticipation. The competition, which lasted April 27-30, saw the Heritage Robotics Team almost advance to the division finals before being defeated.
The 20 hand-picked students taken to the tournament were divided into four main groups: electrical, mechanical, team management and scouts.
“Our scouting division is very crucial. They take information on other teams, and using that information, decide which teams to pick for our alliance,” said sophomore Anurag Akkiraju, who is part of the electrical team.
The robotics competition features a unique system of alliances, where the top eight teams after the qualification matches are permitted to pick three other teams to align with, resulting in eight such groups that compete in the playoff rounds.
“The alliances stick together for the entirety of the competition; they ride or die together,” Akkiraju said.
In each round, the alliances send three robots onto the field against an opposing alliance, with one robot on each team kept as a substitution. The goal is for the robots to bypass the enemy’s defenses, shoot a ball into a tower and score points.
Due to the massive scale of the competition, there are eight divisions which compete simultaneously and independently. Each division is named after a famous historical scientist; Heritage was placed in the “Galileo” division. The winning alliance from each division has the opportunity to compete on the prestigious Einstein field. Unfortunately, Heritage was defeated by a Michigan-based team just before advancing.
“For most teams, securing an appearance on the Einstein field is even more important than a regional win. We lost by a fluke which sucks because we had a really good chance of advancing to the finals,” Akkiraju said.
Although they expected to win, a problem in the original design led to the robot drawing an excessive amount of current during the match. Despite the setback, the team is determined to perform even better next time.
“This year was really the best we’ve ever done at the world championship. I’m very confident that next year we will make it to the Einstein field,” Akkiraju said.