On Wednesday, April 13th, Raider Robotix departed on a three day trip to Bethlehem, PA to compete in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship. That night, a small crew of five students loaded in our robot and set up our pit in preparation for a long weekend of competing against the 59 other best teams in the region.
Early Thursday morning, the entire team arrived at the Stabler Arena at Lehigh University. While the scouting team organized themselves in the stands and started taking notes on robots playing practice matches, the pit crew was hard at work making improvements to our robot and getting it through the inspection process.
After playing in 35+ matches over the course of our previous two competitions, the tread on our robot’s wheels had been worn down. We replaced all six wheels with brand new ones. The robot also received a brand new hanging hook (painted red to increase visibility and match the rest of the robot’s color scheme), a geared intake linkage to replace the sole piece of chain on the robot, a new set of bumpers, a set of LEDs to indicate possession of a ball, and a new control board and driver station laptop. When lunch time rolled around, the robot looked like a completely new machine.
Thursday afternoon our team played in three qualification matches and won them all, placing us near the top of the rankings. We knew our matches scheduled for the next two days would be much tougher. Friday we split our games going 3-3, with two of the losses having small margins of 3 and 7 points. We finished our scheduled qualification matches Saturday morning with an overall record of 8-4 and 35 ranking points, which put us in 11th place.
During the alliance selection process, the captain of the third seeded alliance, Team 3314 – The Mechanical Mustangs from Clifton, NJ, selected us as their first overall pick. As one of the top high-goal shooting robots at the event, they were attracted to our robot’s ability to quickly maneuver around the field bringing them balls to score and consistently scale the tower at the end of the match. We then invited Team 1089 – Team Mercury from Hightstown, NJ to round out our alliance. 1089 was another high goal scoring machine with the ability to score in autonomous and manipulate the category A defenses.
Together, our alliance sailed through the quarterfinal and semi-final rounds with four straight match wins despite our robots encountering some mechanical problems. In the finals, we face the number one seeded alliance consisting of teams 225 – TechFire from York, PA, 341 – Miss Daisy from Ambler, PA, and 1257 – Parallel Universe from Scotch Plains, NJ. We had previously allied with teams 341 and 1257 on the number one alliances at our two previous district competitions, so we knew exactly what we were going up against.
We barely lost the first finals match due to fouls and one of our alliance partners rolling off the batter, which prevented us from earning the bonus capture points. We then came back strong and won the second finals match 159-122. The third tie-breaker match had everyone in the arena on the edge of their seats. Our alliance led in scoring for the first minute of the match, despite 3314’s battery becoming disconnected 15 seconds into the teleoperated period. With the defenses breached and the tower weakened with a minute left to play in the match, we then were able to push 3314’s robot off of the rockwall and onto the batter even against defense from team 1257. This series of events gave the opposing alliance enough time and opportunity to catch up and ultimately win the match.
Overall, we finished as finalists at the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship. We earned enough district ranking points to finish the local season ranked third out of the 121 teams in the Mid-Atlantic. Our cumulative performance throughout the season qualified us to attend the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis April 27-30 at the end of the month! We already have our airfare and hotel rooms booked and cannot wait to compete against some of the best teams in the world!