FIRST Tech Challenge in Delaware

While we mostly post about VEX VRC (metal) and VEXIQ (plastic) robots here, I went to the FIRST Tech Challenge scrimmage at Padua School in Wilmington. (History buffs will know that VEX was the first “table top” robotics with FIRST, and in 2008 there was a direction change, FIRST went one direction, VEX and the RECF started their own thing).

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is table top robots, like VEX that play a co-operation game. This years game has them taking “stones” (that look a lot like Lego bricks) and moving them across the field to stack them as high as they can. An you are thinking “easy peasy” but they need to sneak pass the Galactic Empire under 14″ gates to move and place their building materials. Tall towers win, but it’s hard at one block at a time. I thought this was an easy games, let the Rebels grab and shoot blocks across the void, but it turns out that the Empire as sensors to detect that.

FTC has a different part set with a wide variety of motors and sensors. The metal parts are from one company, but the interesting part to me (as software guy) is their “brain” is a smart phone. So you have Java on the phone, and a pretty decent camera for vision. So robots are able to focus in on the stones to move them.

I also like the game, there is 30 seconds of autonomous, lots longer to show off robot talent. The bolder\boulder builds allow for serious construction. A cool twist is that each team can 3D print their own capstone, and place it on there tallest stack for bonus points. It’s a complicated game, with lots of ways to score. Check them out at their next event, the Delaware State Championship on March 14 at Central Middle School in Dover.