Robotics team not selected for elimination matches

Karen Feng

Despite making a late comeback, MVRT was unable to recover from inconsistent performance at the Sacramento Regional.

From March 21 to 22, the MV Robotics Team competed at the For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology Robotics Sacramento Regional competition hosted at the UC Davis ARC Pavilion. MVRT, founded in 1997, participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition which is hosted through seven weeks of regional competitions that culminate in the international championship in St. Louis from April 24 to 26 . Despite being seeded 18th out of 50 teams before the quarterfinal, MVRT suffered from erratic performances due to mechanical and electrical faults and was not selected for the elimination matches.

MVRT spent the six-week build season from January through February to build a robot to perform the annual challenge under strict constraints. The challenge this year, Ultimate Ascent, involves launching frisbees and lifting the robot up a three-tiered pyramid, with more points given for frisbees launched into higher goals or for hanging robots on the upper tiers. El Toro XVI, this year’s robot, has the capability to load and launch frisbees and hang itself from the first tier of the pyramid. The four weeks between the end of build and the Sacramento Regional were spent building a second robot for testing purposes with an improved frisbee feeder and shooter mechanism.

MVRT autonomous mode shooting from El Estoque on Vimeo.

On March 20, the pit crew spent the day from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. finalizing the competition robot by attaching the improved mechanisms, performing systems checks and calibrating the robot before competition on the practice field. Issues persisted through testing on Thursday and the qualification matches on Friday with faulty mechanisms both mechanically and electrically as the team fluctuated between losses and wins, leading the team to rank 24th out of 50 by the end of Friday with a 4-4 win-loss record.

“I did see a lot of teamwork; there weren’t any points when we saw a problem and stopped and gave up,” pit member sophomore RJ Cunningham said. “We really did work through all the problems we had and it almost felt like every time a new problem would come up, we would get rid of it, and eventually it seems like we’ll stop having them. I feel we’re getting close to the end of the problems since we work so hard as a team to do that.”

MVRT president senior Evelyn Ding, pit members sophomores Andrew He and RJ Cunningham and engineering lead senior Kumar Veeravel calibrate the robot on the practice field before competition at the Sacramento Regional. A lack of testing during the build season led to physical faults during the qualification matches that kept the team from being picked for quarterfinals. Photo by Karen Feng.

MVRT president senior Evelyn Ding, pit members sophomores Andrew He and RJ Cunningham and engineering lead senior Kumar Veeravel calibrate the robot on the practice field before competition at the Sacramento Regional. A lack of testing during the build season led to physical faults during the qualification matches that kept the team from being picked for quarterfinals. Photo by Karen Feng.

On Saturday, MVRT made its big turnaround. After winning its first match of the day despite heavy defense by the opposing alliance, the robot scored a personal record of 28 points with scores from both shooting frisbees and hanging on the first tier of the pyramid. However, technical issues kept the robot from shooting frisbees during the final qualification match.

“The reason we didn’t get into the quarterfinals was, although we won all three matches on Saturday morning, in the third match we couldn’t shoot and we couldn’t drive, so I’m sure teams were looking even though we were ranked 18th,” former sales manager and mentor John Yelinek said. “In the first two rounds we did really well, but we fell apart in the third match.”

After 11 matches, the top eight seeded teams held alliance selections to choose two other teams as permanent partners through the elimination matches. MVRT was not selected and did not fill in for any other team as the first alternate to replace any faulty robots during eliminations. Despite a disappointing performance at competition, the team is looking forward to its next regional competition, the Silicon Valley Regional, from April 5 to 6 at San Jose State University, for a shot at the international championships.

Karen Feng is a robotics team member who attended the Sacramento Regional.