Lincoln Laboratory robotics team goes to World Championship

Lincoln Laboratory's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Technical Challenge (FTC) team, MITiBOT, finished its debut season by placing 24th out of 100 teams at the World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, in April. This rookie team, made up of 15- to 18-year-old children of Laboratory employees, qualified to compete in Atlanta by performing well in regional tournaments throughout the winter.

 Lincoln Laboratory FTC team Lincoln Laboratory's FTC team, MITiBOT, placed in the semifinals in the World Competition. Lincoln Laboratory mentors, John Peabody and Brian Shucker, sit in the top row.

Mentored and coached through the Robotics Outreach at Lincoln Laboratory (ROLL) Program, this team met every weekend throughout the fall to build and program a robot from a kit of parts including gaming controllers, a metal building kit, 10 sensors, 11 motors, and 3 software packages. Using RobotC, NXT-G, or LabView, the team programmed its robot to perform a robotic challenge dictated by FIRST.

Photo of the team's robotThe MITiBOT robot was built by the students to meet specifications, traverse various surfaces, and engage precise loading, carrying, and unloading programs, yet also play defensively.

This year's FTC challenge, called "Face Off," involved placing pucks in specific scoring areas of the playing field while defending against the opposing robot. Matches consist of a 30-second autonomous period and a 2-minute driver-controlled period. During the match, two alliances of two teams compete. To be successful, robots must navigate over a variety of surfaces, remove hockey pucks from a rack, and place them in various locations on the playing field, each location differing in difficulty and points available. The robots play 2-on-2 in the qualifying matches and elimination rounds. In the qualifying rounds, pairings are random, and the rankings after qualifying are used to choose teams of 3 robots (2 players and 1 substitute) for the elimination rounds.

In their first regional competition, MITiBOT qualified 3rd out of 26. They defeated two other alliances to make it to finals where this young team was eventually defeated, but as the captain of the finalist alliance, they came in 2nd place overall. The team developed its robot and handled the pressures of competition extremely well. They made hard, but professional decisions, such as choosing to play defense instead of focusing on points, or reducing their own role in a match for the good of the alliance, showing maturity and contributing to their wins.

In March, the team competed in a statewide competition and won four straight matches to take first place and win the tournament! They received special recognition from the judges for technical strength and professionalism. This win led to the World Competition, where their performance was outstanding for a rookie team. There were many lessons learned through this year's competitions. We look forward to the gracious professionalism, camaraderie, and inspiration of strong Lincoln Laboratory teams in next year's FTC Challenge.

Posted June 2009

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