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Having a Ball at IRI

posted Jul 21, 2014, 8:46 AM by Up-A-Creek Robotics

Team 1619 performed well enough this year during the regular season to become one of the 76 teams invited to compete at the Indiana Robotics Invitational this year. This prestigious event gathers the best teams around the globe to compete in that year’s game, and it is considered by some to be even more competitive than the official FRC Championship (12 teams that made it to Championship elimination rounds were not invited to IRI).

20 team members, 10 mentors and students alike, traveled to Indianapolis for this competition with mixed expectations ranging from participating in elimination rounds to only winning one match. While we did win more than one match, we didn't quite make the loftiest of our goals. With an overall record of 3-6, we were passed over during alliance selections in favor of other teams. One factor that likely contributed was our poor autonomous scoring, with our previously unshakable routine only connecting once in eight attempts. Even so we managed to beat one alliance in qualification matches (1024, 67, and 2481) that contained two teams who competed together on the Einstein field at the FRC Championship.

The game was played very differently at IRI than at any other competition we have been to so far. At such a high level, autonomous was a large factor, because any missed shots meant that you had a time disadvantage compared to the other team when starting your cycles. When every alliance has a large scoring potential (only 9 out of 118 matches resulting in one alliance scoring less than 100 points) those 10 extra seconds that the other team has make a large difference. Not to mention the fact that it can be difficult to come back from a 75-30 deficit from the start. In addition to autonomous playing a larger role in the outcome of matches, defense was also a staple of play. You had to remind teams to go play defense during regionals, but at IRI it was a given. The robots who could shoot on the run or from a protected area - like the corner where the low goal is placed - had a much easier time than those that required more time to aim in the open field.

Despite our bid for a win ending earlier than we had hoped, the entire team still had a blast! Wandering through the pits to look at different designs, listening to the music from team 254’s robot cart, and cheering on the teams that you watched win the FRC Championship all contributed to what was my favorite event yet. It’s easy to forget when you’re watching a live stream about robots that the hall of fame teams are still composed of other people, and meeting them in person was both inspiring and educational. Our plans for the future include things such as a new pit, planned to be completed before the next build season, along with a battery cart to take to the field during elimination matches. In addition to these projects we also have discussed the idea of “upgrading” our robot cart after seeing the many different ones on display at IRI. Even though we may not have come home with a new trophy, we brought back plenty of things (experience, information, and ideas) that will be much more useful in the long run.

Written by Tyler F. on July 20, 2014