FIRST Robotics Crowns Michigan Champions

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A match in the championship round of the 2011 FIRST Robotics Michigan state championships in Ypsilanti.

A match in the championship round of the 2011 FIRST Robotics Michigan state championships in Ypsilanti.

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FIRST Robotics has been around for 20 seasons now, with close to 4,000 teams.

The teams are identified by number, in the order which they joined the competition. So you know any team that has just a two-digit number has been around a long time and is a real veteran.

So it made sense that a three-team alliance made up entirely of teams with two-digit numbers won Michigan’s FIRST Robotics Championship Saturday at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center.

The winning alliance was comprised of Team 33, the Killer Bees, from Notre Dame Preparatory School; Team 67, the Heroes Of Tomorrow (HOT) Team from Huron Valley Schools; and Team 70, More Martians from Goodrich High School.

In a thrilling final that went the full three matches, they beat an alliance made up of Team 27, Team Rush, from Clarkston High School and the CSMTech Academy; Team 245, The Adambots, from Rochester Adams and Stoney Creek high schools; and Team 1023, the Bedford Express, from Temperance Bedford High School.

Participating teams spun, clashed and clanged around a 27-by-54-foot playing field, trying to pick up inflatable tubes and place them on elevated racks, through 128 qualification matches Friday and Saturday. For qualification matches, teams are matched randomly into three-team alliances.

The top eight teams qualified automatically for the elimintation round, which is done in a best two out of three match competition. In a meeting of all teams, they selected the other two teams for their alliances, based on which teams of the remaining teams they thought could best help them win. Thus, 24 teams qualified for the quarterfinals.

There was a pretty big upset in the first quarterfinal, where the No. 1-seeded alliance after the qualification matches was upset by the No. 8-seeded alliance in a three-match set. However, several observers also told me that at this level, even the No. 8 alliance is comprised of really excellent teams. At any rate, winning this first quarterfinal was the No. 8 alliance of teams 3098, the Captains, from Waterford Kettering High School; Team 548, The Robostangs of Northville High School; and Team 74, Team C.H.A.O.S. of Holland High School. Done for the day unexpectedly early was the No. 1-ranked alliance of Team 217, the ThunderChickens of Utica Community Schools; Team 469, Las Guerrillas of the International Academy; and Team 201, the Feds of Rochester High School

In Quarterfinal 2, the No. 4-seeded alliance — the eventual state runners-up — took three games to get by the No. 5-seeded alliance of Teams 326, Teameruperpowermaticultramegasuperlativeawesometasticdelicioushowlingunieagles, of Romulus High School, Team 2337, the EngiNerds of Grand Blanc High School, and Team 1718, the Fighting Pi of Macomb Academy of Arts & Sciences.

In Quarterfinal 3, the No. 2-seeded alliance — the eventual state champion — needed only two games to get by the No. 7-seeded alliance of Team 573, the Mech Warriors of Birmingham Brother Rice and Birmingham high schools, Team 51, Wings of Fire of Pontiac High School, and Team 2145, Hazmats of Lake Fenton Community Schools.

In Quarterfinal 4, the No. 3-seeded alliance of Team 910, the Foley Freeze of Madison Heights Bishop Foley Catholic High School, Team 2137, The Oxford RoboCats of Oxford Community Schools, and Team 2054 the Tech Vikes of Hopkins High School and the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, took three games to outscore the No. 5-seeded alliance of Team 494, the Martians of Goodrich High School, Team 1918, the NC Gears of the Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency; and Team 3539, the Byting Bulldogs of the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center. (Team 3539 is a rookie team.)

In Semifinal 1, the No. 4-seeded alliance took three games to take out the No. 8 seeded alliance. In Semifinal 2, the No. 2 alliance needed only two matches to outpoint the No. 3-seeded alliance.

This year’s game, Logo Motion, is played bytwo competing alliances on a flat 27-by-54 field. Each alliance consists of three robots. They compete to hang as many inflated plastic shapes — red triangles, white circles, and blue squares, the FIRST logo — on their team’s grid as possible during a 2 minute, 15 second competition. There are three sets of three posts at low, medium and high heights. The higher the teams hang their game pieces on their scoring grid, the more points their alliance receives.

The match begins with a 15-second autonomous period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs and must hang yellow “ubertubes” to score extra points. For the rest of the match, drivers control robots and try to maximize their alliance score by hanging as many logo pieces as possible. Any logo piece hung on the same peg as an Ubertube receives double points. If teams assemble the logo pieces on their scoring grids to form the FIRST logo — triangle, circle, square, in a horizontal row in that order — the points for the entire row are doubled.

The match ends with robots deploying “minibots,” small electro-mechanical assemblies that are independent of the host robot, onto vertical poles. The minibots race to the top of the pole to trigger a sensor and earn bonus points.

The winners Saturday — along with winners of other special awards announced Saturday night — are eligible to compete in the FIRST Robotics World Championships, to be held April 27-30 in St. Louis, Mo.

For a complete list of winners and other information, visit www.firstinmichigan.com.

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