Browsing articles in "Robot & Team"

Robot Permitted to Compete on a Saturday

Mar 19, 2011   //   by Eliana   //   Blogs, Robot & Team  //  No Comments

This week our team got the exciting news that we will be allowed to compete on a Saturday if we make it to the Elimination Round of the World Championship in St. Louis. The issue was that our team is connected with our school which is a pluralistic Jewish school. Being pluralistic means that the school welcomes kids for all kinds of Jewish backgrounds and beliefs because it accepts people from all denominations. We have kids in our school who are many varieties of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstuctionist, non-affiliated, and secular. The current members of our team are ok competing and working on Shabbat but people of stricter observance in our school Jewish community would not be comfortable doing robotics related tasks on Shabbat (Saturday-the Jewish Sabbath). Our principal has been very understanding. The current policy at Gann is that no team or individual can compete on a Saturday representing Gann Academy. We are thankful to Lincoln Labs for sponsoring and running a regional competition in Arlington on a Sunday that we could attend. Then we went to the New York State Competition in Hudson Valley which was also on a Sunday. We qualified for the Massachusetts State Competition but it took place on a Saturday. We are grateful that we were allowed to compete in New York, one of three Sunday state competitions in the country. Then we had to deal with the Shabbat problem. The St. Louis competition runs for four days and the last day, Saturday, is for the Elimination Round. If we make it that far, which is our goal, we wouldn’t want to have to give up our spot because the competition is on a Saturday. We are working on programming our robot to be fully autonomous so that we won’t have to drive it if we compete on a Saturday. We hope it will work and have put lots of time and energy into working on making the robot autonomous. Even if the robot was fully autonomous, our team would still be competing and so we needed a decision from our headmaster about whether or not we would be allowed to compete in any form on Shabbat. Rabbi Baker, our principal, has spent a huge amount of time talking with different people about their opinions on what we should be permitted to do on Shabbat. Our team has met with Rabbi Baker to address our concerns and to understand all of the factors playing into his decision.

The decision was made that we will be able compete on a Saturday autonomously or with another team driving our robot if we fulfill a list of conditions. This is great news! Basically the conditions are to ensure that anyone from our community would feel comfortable joining the robotics team even if they are Shabbat observant. This is valuable because we do not want to exclude people because they might have a stronger religious practice. We will not be allowed to drive the robot ourselves or fix anything that breaks on the robot on Saturday until Shabbat is over. Similar to the school’s shabbatons, we are required to have some celebration of Shabbat. Right now some parents are working on coordinating Shabbos dinner for all the families on Friday night. It should be fun to celebrate Shabbat as a team. Hopefully we will make it to the elimination round and get to show off our autonomous robot. I would just like to thank everyone, especially Rabbi Baker, who spend time going over all sides of this dilemma and coming up with an appropriate solution. I think the final solution is successful in not making our time follow the strictest observance and not compete in any form at all, but also in not letting us disregard Shabbat.


Mar 5, 2011   //   by sam   //   Blogs, Robot & Team  //  2 Comments
FTC MapQuest system
a photo by Samuel R. on Flickr.

Here is a little sneak preview of our newest addition to our robot; MapQuest. I am not aloud to tell you guys what it does….and we aren’t even sure if we will be posting videos of it later this month. On another note, our team is moving along nicely designing (well…rebuilding) our robot to be able to compete in the World Competition. We have added functionality to hold the rolling goal, and an alignment system with the dispenser. We have also moved around our controllers to utilize the most space on our FTC competition robot. There should be some movies in the next weeks of the new robot working, and possibly some sneak previews of MapQuest….if we can have the full system up and running in the next month.

Night Before NY State Championship

Feb 6, 2011   //   by Eliana   //   Blogs, Robot & Team  //  No Comments

Like usual we were running behind. We were staying in New York so that we would be close to the location of the New York State Championship for the start of the competition early in the morning. Before we left for New York, some of our programs still weren’t working so we took about half of our practice field with us to New York. When we arrived the team got to work rearranging furniture and setting up the field in our coach’s hotel room. We had been hoping to practice our presentation and have a more relaxing evening but we ended up fixing the last minute problems in the programs and testing the robot with our field.

When the team went to eat dinner with our families in the lobby, we discovered that there were at least two other FTC teams staying in the hotel who were also fixing last minute problems on their robots. As we passed the other teams working in a public area of the hotel we offered that  they could use the practice field in our room or we could help them with any other problems. As I was going down to the lobby to post some signs letting any FTC teams know this, an all-girls team from Mt. Hope, Rhode Island headed upstairs to use our field. The next day’s competition was going to be their first competition. We went over the software inspection checklist with them and helped them with some Samantha module problems. It was pretty crazy in the hotel room with our whole teams, members of the girls’ team, some of our parents, some of their parents, and both teams’ coaches all in the same small room. It was so warm we had the window open while it was snowing. Once the girls tested out their robot, the boys’ team from the same school stopped by and we helped them with some of their problems. They also tested out their robot on our field. I added an entry to the Engineering Notebook about that night so our coach had to go down to the office center at the hotel to print out pictures that I could add to the notebook. It was almost 2 AM by the time some of us went to bed. The next day after the competition the judges came up to us and told us that they really liked how we had helped other teams so much.

The City that Never Sleeps

Jan 29, 2011   //   by sam   //   Blogs, Robot & Team  //  No Comments

New York, New York! Such a beautiful city…. even though we aren’t there yet ;) We have a competition this weekend (actually….it’s tomorrow), and we still aren’t ready for it! We are currently driving from Massachusetts to New York to be able to attend a Sunday competition, and we are carrying with us half of an FTC field which we are hoping to set up in our hotel room(s). Chances that it will fit :)? We can dispence batons into the flat goal and do a few other things (our secret weapons) in the autonomous period, but we have much to work on. We are hoping to do well at our competition tomorrow, but we have only been able to work for three days, and we are a rookie team. There are currently new videos posted on our youtube channel about our robot, and our work days, and there will be more later tonight once we have everything working. Good luck to New York teams tomorrow, and to everyone else in the upcoming competitions!

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