Northwest Robotics team defeated at Southern

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The Northwest Robotics team, the Robo Vikings, all trickled into the unfamiliar cafeteria and set up their booth. Two trifolds stood proudly on a table, lollipops and custom pins were laid out for the other teams. Two people were sitting on the floor, controllers in hand, practicing their performance.

“We went in there with a good robot, I think the team put a very good quality thing together, we just ran into some issues that we couldn’t overcome,” team coach Steven Hancock said.

A state qualifier was held at Southern Guilford High on Saturday, Jan. 25. The competition had 30 other teams competing against the Robovikings for one of the seven spots to move up to states. Teams would play in 5 qualifying matches in a predetermined alliance against another team, scoring points to either be a finalist or to be chosen for an alliance for a finalist. They would also be interviewed and judged based on several different criteria, possibly winning awards at the end of the day.

“I thought a lot of the other teams had a lot of good potential, and some of them pulled it off really well. (They were) obviously very organized, (and) their outreach was upper apparent, which is important within robotics presentation. You can definitely tell if there are rookies on a team, speaking as one myself,” said freshman Sophia Sizer. “All in all it was a really fun experience, and a lot of people were really kind. I’ve never met a mean person at a robotics competition.”

The Northwest Guilford Robotics team had competed once before this at the Northern Guilford qualifier. The robot had just been completed, so there were bugs, mechanical errors, and programming problems aplenty. The Robo Vikings had no autonomous, and the drivers had next to no experience with the robot. They came 19th out of 23.

“I felt that we weren’t that competitive in our first qualifier because of our lack of experience,” co leader Enes Eroglu said, “But in our second qualifier, since we had the experience from the first, I feel like we definitely benefited from that. We’re learning more about engineering and robotics now.

The Robo Vikings had worked a lot with the robot since then, refining the mechanisms and the code. Some of the team stayed from 4pm to 8pm working on getting the autonomous portion just right.

“We did really well with trying to make this robot happen,” co leader Will Spradling. “A lot of us stayed after school for autonomous (till) 8:00 just trying to get this thing built, and we did it, it got built.”

The Robo Vikings played in matches one, 13, 16, 29 and 39. The first two matches ran smoothly, the Robo Vikings winning 52-30 and 24-16. However, at the third match, something went wrong. 

“I was totally disappointed, not at anyone, but the way we lost” team coach Ray Alford said.

The Robo Viking’s robot and their alliance member for the match, Wannabe Strange had a collision during the autonomous period, causing both of the robots to disconnect. So during the driver controlled period, both robots of the alliance were unable to function, resulting in an absolutely crushing loss. Similar problems happened in the last two matches, the robot functioning perfectly during practice runs between matches, and failing miserably during the actual rounds. The Robo Vikings finished 23rd out of 31.

We’re still trying to debug (the disconnects), we think it might be a result of electrostatic discharge causing the phone to disconnect from the REV hub.”

— Will Spradling

“The Competition was great! For Northern,” Alford said. “But for us, I’ve never experienced this type of loss. We won two matches, and the next three matches, we pretty much died. We couldn’t figure out what happened, some of the adults, (like) the coaches and mentors, couldn’t figure out what happened.” 

Robovikings wasn’t able to compete in the finals, but they were runner up for the control award, which is given to the team that uses sensors and software to improve the robot’s general performance. 

They hoped to compete in another qualifier at least an hour and a half away, but NC FTC rules states that a team may only compete in two qualifiers total. The team is now working on honing their skills and improving the robot for next year’s challenge.