SWAT Bots win awards at Alberta Championship
Thursday, Mar 09, 2017 06:00 am
The Airdrie SWAT Bots have added some top awards to its trophy shelf following the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Alberta Championship at the TELUS World of Science in Edmonton Feb. 11 and 12.
Entering two teams in the competition, SWAT Bots Red achieved the Winning Alliance award and PTC design award while SWAT Bots Black placed second in the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award, according to team mentor Pouyan Behrouzi.
“It was amazing,” he said. “The FTC not only challenges the kids with innovation and discovery but the competitive angle of the contest itself is given high marks on gracious professionalism...These young people need to learn to win, but never at any cost.”
The process of designing, engineering, testing and programming robots kicked off Sept. 10, 2016, when FTC released the parameters of its Velocity Vortex challenge, according to SWAT Bots Red team member Matias Wrinkel, 14.
The challenge, he said, involved creating a way for robots to put balls into baskets to score points.
“Right away we decided we wanted to build a robot around launching these particle balls,” Wrinkel said.
SWAT Bots Red member Deeba Behrouzi, 14, said the team came up with a simple catapult design using a “choo-choo” mechanism, which, like an older steam-engine train, pulled back and let go of tension of surgical tubing.
Pressure builds as the motor pulls the tubing back, she said, so that when it comes off the gear the ball goes flying.
“It’s basically a giant rubber band,” she said.
In the last 30 seconds of the challenge, the robots were also faced with the opportunity to score big by putting a giant exercise ball on top of a giant basket.
“We attempted to do that (but) it did not go very well,” Deeba said. “That part of our robot was unfortunately not in action during the competition.”
With SWAT Bots Red placing second overall after qualifying and SWAT Bots Black ninth, Behrouzi said both teams advanced to the elimination playoffs.
Though SWAT Bots placed second overall in qualifying and took home the Winning Alliance award last year, Wrinkel said he still feels they did better this year.
“Last year there were only 10 teams,” he said. “This year there was 25.”
Working with a core group of kids for the past three years, Deeba said she has developed friendships through the SWAT Bots.
The months of trial and error really pay off, she said, when bringing a completed robot to a challenge such as the FTC Alberta Championship.
“I like that it’s our hard work that’s going into this competition,” Deeba said. “It really pushes you and challenges you to think outside the box.
“In the end it’s all worth it.”