Local News

Robotics Semifinalists At World Championships

Linda Wang
Humor Editor
Los Gatos High School’s Iron Claw Robotics (Team 972) returned home from the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championships in Houston after another momentous victory on Saturday, Apr. 22, as Archimedes Division Champions and final Einstein Tournament competitors.
Whilst preparing for the championships, Team 972 worked on minor adjustments to their robot, named “Vertigo,” and readied relevant materials and spare parts. Electrical and Pneumatics Lead and Hardware Pit Executive Joshua Matthews detailed several parts of the process, such as fixing the intake bar and hot gluing electrical wires. “We didn’t have to make any major changes before we went to Houston; it was basically checking that everything was working,” Matthews explained. The team additionally practiced autonomous routines and discussed strategy, which was their main area for potential points. Operations Director Leison Gao clarified, “The 15 second autonomous routine was the thing limiting the top score because they used to have the score capped out at a certain point. So as long as we optimized that, then we would be in a better place.”
Eight divisions of teams competed to play in the final Einstein Tournament. “Going into our division, we felt that we were not going to win. We were just going to enjoy competing…enjoy the last moments with the robot,” Gao contextualized. Team 972 competed with roughly 77 other teams within their assigned Archimedes Division, which also included the previous world championships winners Team 254 The Cheesy Poofs from Bellarmine College Preparatory School and Team 1619 Up-A-Creek Robotics from Colorado, as well as the highest ranked team, Team 2056 OP Robotics from a high school in Canada. Freshman Kaushik Tadepalli, who provided game pieces for the robots as Human Player, commented on the matches, “Being on the drive team was pretty stressful, especially in the finals…at Houston in the playoff matches and [at] Einsteins [the final tournament], as we were always in the losers bracket and one loss meant going home.” Despite these challenges, Team 972, alongside alliance members Teams 8085, 6328, and 687, emerged as the Archimedes Division Champions and went on to compete in the Einstein Tournament. “We might not necessarily have had the fastest or the robot that could score the most, but our reliability is what made us one of the best in the world,” Matthews noted. Gao added, “I think the simple design of our robot made it very consistent and easy to work with… [as an example,] it only had two degrees of freedom, as with other robots, who had three, four, or even five.” Tadepalli concludes, “A lot of minor improvements, like the bumper clips and hooks, as well as making a reliable and working elevator compared to other years really shows how the team has improved over time and learned from the failures of past robots.”
After the competition season, Team 972 is currently training students for new positions, electing members to its board, and creating ideas for fall projects in the next year. “I really liked how we worked well,” Matthews reflected. “As the Hardware Executive, I tried to make sure we were communicating a lot better so we weren’t wasting time. It’s just really amazing showing that when you organize, you plan, and you communicate well, it really allows you to succeed.”

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