NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo and River Valley high school robotics teams have eight weeks to prepare for the March 10-12 competition in St. Joseph.
Details for the FIRST RAPID REACT 2022 game were revealed during a January 8 “Kickoff” live stream watched in real time by teams around the world, including New Buffalo High School Bionic Bison (RV Gearheads started to dig this year’s challenge on January 11).
“Our seniors were in sophomores the last time we had a season, and it was really only half a season,” said NBHS Bionic Bison team lead mentor Darrick Fairchild.
Members of the 2022 Bionic Bison team include Zoe Price, Autumn Bukowski, David Fairchild, Hagen Davis, Chris Mejia, Alyssa Ruszkowski and Wesley McGinn.
Mentors include Noah Sharum, Todd Tanksley, Daniel Fairchild (a New Buffalo graduate who is now with Edgewater Automation), Abby Kuespert and Nate Orlowski.
Sharum, a 2018 New Buffalo High School graduate and Bionic Bison alumna, said the nearly two-year hiatus in robotics competition has left everyone a bit rusty.
“It’ll be fine, I think we’ll be where we were before. It’ll just take a little longer to get there.”
Jenny Jones (one of three main mentors on the VR Gearhead team – the others are her husband Mike Jones and Paul Boughner) works with a team of five (hoping to add a few more students): Raven Sanford , Emma Sanford, Jayden Witter, Jeremiah Smith and Gage Orman.
Amy Orman, Jacob Ashcraft, and Aiden Olson (Ashcraft and Olson are VR grads and Edgewater Automation apprentices) also help out as mentors.
RAPID REACT (presented by The Boeing Company) features two competing alliances of three teams processing cargo (in the form of oversized tennis balls) for transport. Each alliance is assigned a color of cargo (red or blue, depending on alliance affiliation) to process by collecting their assigned cargo and marking it in a central two-level hub. Human players assist cargo recovery and scoring efforts from their terminals. In the final moments of each two-and-a-half-minute match, the alliance bots rush to engage with their hangar to prepare for transport (there are three ascending tiers of “bar-shaped” rungs). monkey” to which robots can attach and shoot rise from the ground – the higher they climb, the more points they score for their alliance).
Each match begins with a 15-second autonomous period, during which the alliance robots operate solely on pre-programmed instructions to score points by: rolling from their tarmac and retrieving and marking their assigned cargo in the hub. In the last 2 minutes and 15 seconds of the match, the pilots take control of the robots and score points by: continuing to collect and mark their assigned cargo in the hub and engaging with their hangar. The alliance with the highest score at the end of the match wins.
Fairchild said the three-tier climb at the end of each game will be tricky and speed of movement on the competition field will be key.
Immediately after watching the Kickoff Bionic Bison, the team members started figuring out what their robot was going to be (it has a weight limit of 125 pounds) and roaming the terrain.
Bukowski, one of the seniors on the team, said there’s a lot going on in the design of the 2022 robot, especially with the climbing challenge at the end of each game.
“I think it’s going to go well, especially with the people on this team,” she said.
Fairchild said the Bionic Bison likely won’t start building its machine’s chassis until the week after launch.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with a certain design, we want to be open to anything for a few weeks and then we have to lock it down,” he added.
Jenny Jones said durability is a priority for RV Gearheads.
“Our goal is to have a working robot for both competitions (the second for River Valley and New Buffalo is scheduled for Battle Creek Lakeview March 31-April 2)… We’re going to get out there, have fun and learn something, ” she said.
In 2022, FIRST Robotics Competition is expected to reach between 55,000 and 81,000 high school students representing approximately 3,200 teams. Teams come from almost every state in the United States, as well as many other countries. Teams will compete in 59 regional competitions, 106 district competitions and 11 district championships. Additionally, approximately 450 teams will qualify to compete in the FIRST Championship in April 2022.