(April 29th): World Championships
Nothing was as big as a challenge as competing against 68 of the most incredible robots across the globe.
This was the team’s second time attending Worlds. However, we saw it as our first time, because so much had changed since 2004. The game was more articulate, the attending teams had improved, the competition had expanded, and the complexity had increased.
The World Championships this year was held in St. Louis at America’s Dome from April 26th – April 29th. As always, there were 6 divisions (Curie, Carson, Daly, Darwin, Tesla, Archimedes), each hosting approximately 70 teams. Team 449 was in the Curie division and partnered with nearby Chesapeake district teams like FRC Team 384, Sparky, Team 1086, Blue Cheese, and Team 2534 Lumberjack robotics.
After a total of 114 matches, each team had played 10 matches, and were ranked by ranking points. The Blair Robot Project had a final win-loss-tie score of 3-6-1. Each game was incredibly close, verifying that our final ranking of 37th was in no way an accurate depiction of how well we were performing.
Each match went something along the lines of completing a side gear-placement autonomous, delivering 4+ gears in tele-op, and finishing with a 3 second climb in end-game. Game after game, this performance was seen by those in the stands. Back at the Greater DC District Event, consistency was something unknown to us. Delivering a gear could range anywhere from 20 to 45 seconds. Climbing was just a hope. And autonomous was something we were still experimenting with. A few weeks later, we’ve come so far. Delivering gears took us 7-11 seconds, even under circumstances with heavy defense from three opposing robots. Climbing was something we had pure confidence in. Finally, our autonomous was something to consistently look forward to watching.
As we walked the hallways of the convention center, we’d get random high fives from teams congratulating us for our performance. We stood out among the teams for being fast, efficient, and accurate. Our pit had become a pit-stop for teams to come by, look by our robot, talk strategy, and converse about being potential alliance partners.
For those of you who weren’t here, you may ask, what went wrong? We’re proud to say, not much! There was not one match where our drive switched to low gear, we lost communications, or a gear got stuck in our robot. There’s one thing that 449 is great at, and that’s learning from mistakes. Before and after every match, there was a specific system of checking the robot and ensuring it was in its best condition. Even our driver, 16 consecutive weeks of driving, had mastered control over our robot, predicting potential collisions and avoiding them, and aligning with such ease, it seemed easy.
Worlds was most definitely a rush. Matches were constantly scoring more than 250 points and reaching a max of 425 points in qualifications. Achieving four rotors was no longer something rare and admired, but something expected and required. There was beauty in watching all these excellent robots performing in such harmony. Matches were filled with all robots placing gears in autonomous, shooting into the boilers, and climbing for takeoff all at once.
Alliance selection was nerve racking. There were many teams that performed just as well as us, and a few that went above and beyond. Alliances at Worlds consist of four robots total, with the last pick being the alternate robot.
The set up for elimination matches was the first seed played the eighth, and the fourth seed played the fifth. The winners of those sets, played one another for a seat in finals. We were all on edge because if we made it to semifinals, we’d be up against potentially the first seeded alliance, which at this event was a 40 kpa autonomous robot (Team 2056). Team 2056 was capable of earning 4 ranking points consistently, while others could early only 3.
We were aligned with Team 5515, the alliance captain, Team 226 (Hammerheads), and Team 3875 (Red Storm). Every alliance had one shooter and two gear bots. In this case we were the shooter bot (not our specialty). In the end, we played our best but it wasn’t sufficient enough to the opposing fourth alliance. We completed the 2017 season as quarterfinalists in the Curie division. We were the twelfth pick over-all going into elimination matches.
This was a summary of what Worlds was like individually for the team. There will be a more holistic perspective on Worlds coming up in another blog post that discusses the Einstein field, the Innovation Faire, our meeting with Booze Allen Hamilton, sponsors at championships in general, and meeting other teams.