Some local robots are taking over competition, leading them to compete for a world championship later this month after two regional wins.
The RoboCats, the robotics team from Girard High School, won their second regional competition Saturday in Washington, D.C., for the FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Robotics Championship in St. Louis in late April, one of only six teams to do so.
The team was in a field of 58 teams from the Mid-Atlantic region, along with teams from Israel and Brazil, who fought in the FIRST Robotics Competition D.C. Regional on March 30.
The Robocats already had qualified for the world championship with a win at Xavier University in Cincinnati on March 24, but rolled to a back-to-back victory with their Washington win.
The Girard team is made up of 30 students who had six weeks to build a robot based on the not-for-profit organization’s directives. The team worked since January to brainstorm and gather equipment to build and test a robot designed for various tasks based on the directives.
The regional contest was Ultimate Ascent, which challenged students to design and build remote-controlled robots that could fling Frisbee-type discs through targets, according to a release by FIRST. Robots that grappled their way up pyramids on the competition field earned extra points.
In 2012, the Robocats built a robot that shot miniature basketballs into a hoop, but the new tasks gave builders of the 2013 robot unique challenges.
“This year has been pretty challenging because the tasks are pretty complex,” senior Anthony Esposito told The Vindicator in February, as the Robocats were finishing the robot.
The team reached its goal of advanc- ing to the world championships despite a delayed start to their process: The parts for the new robot didn’t arrive until two weeks after FIRST had issued the 2013 guidelines.
The regional event, in its fifth year, was hosted at the Walter Washington Convention Center, and more than 3,000 students, supporters and spectators turned out.
The Robocats will be joined by other qualifiers: Team Krunch from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Fla.; The Brazilian Machine from Provincia de Sao Pedro High School in Porto Alegre, Brazil; ILITE Robotics from Battlefield High School in Prince William County, Va,; Epsilon Delta from Herndon High School in Herndon, Va.; and Team Illusion, a community-based team from Greenbelt, Md.
The RoboCats are seeking support from individuals and local businesses to raise funds for the trip to the world championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis from April 24 to 27.
“We have three weeks [to raise the funds],” said Robocats coach Judy Barber. “We have had a lot of wonderful people in Girard who help support us, and we’re relying on our community.”
The cost of the trip is approximately $16,000 with expenses of a charter bus, food, housing and registration fees, Barber said.