Roborunners at the Nissan Engineering Facility

RoboRunners Vex IQ 2016 Season Week Four

Week four of the RoboRunners Vex IQ season was a whirlwind of activity capped off with a great Programming Skills showing. The team thought last week was amazing, but week four held a last minute call to attend an even larger Vex IQ event.

The team also had their 2nd/3rd grade league, practice, and some exciting news. The week was certainly full of robotics!

RoboRunners 2nd/3rd Grade League

The second graders had a fun Monday of matches but were a little disappointed with the results. Their first league match had resulted in a first place finish, but in their second league match they placed tenth.

They struggled a bit with driving the competition robot and driving teamed up with inexperienced teams. In some ways their competition with middle school kids has spoiled them!

Vex IQ qualifying match

This dropped them to second place overall. I am sure they will bounce back soon!

Surprise Invitations to Compete

Wednesday morning I was contacted by the organizer of a Nissan sponsored Vex IQ event with a last minute invitation to come downstate to compete. The event was three days away! I presented the idea to parents and was happy to find enough kids were able to make the trip.

A two robot park during a match

The same morning I received notification the team was eligible to compete in the CREATE U.S. Open Robotics Championship based on their first place Programming Skills at the Charlotte event. The event isn’t for several months and would involve significant travel but we hope we can make it to compete on the national stage.

Nissan Vex IQ Bank Shot Tournament

Half of the team was able to make the short notice trip to the Detroit area to compete in the Nissan-sponsored event. We arrived in the area late Friday night and had a late night practice at the hotel. The team also made some minor tweaks to their autonomous code.

RoboRunners getting ready to practice

We all got up early and headed a few blocks away to the Nissan Technical Center. The RoboRunners were very excited – the facility is amazing and there were even more teams attending then their last event.

RoboRunners robot inspection

RoboRunners at the driver meeting

We were all very happy that this event was run so well. Vex representatives were present and the judging was very organized. The team was very happy that Vex is addressing robot size issues (last week there were teams that were clearly expanding beyond size restrictions.)

Vex IQ head judge explains sizing

Sizing jigs were presented and explained. This is the same system that will be used at States and Worlds and addresses a lot of the controversy surrounding this years event.

The kids weren’t worried because they had carefully 2D modeled their design and knew that it fit within size constraints at all times. There were teams that had to change their robots at the last minute to comply.

A robotics qualifying match

After the team meeting, qualification matches got underway. The RoboRunners did well, but the competition this week was very strong. The team also had a chance to participate in Driver Skills and Programming Skills. At lunch, Nissan took the students (adults not allowed) on a tour of the facility. They got a chance to see some amazing things from what I understand.

Robot getting ready to score

RoboRunners talking strategy

Nissan Event Results

After a long day of qualifying the team made the finals. They ended up placing 6th in the Teamwork portion of the event. This was mainly against middle school students so it was a strong showing for a new team.

Two robots parking on the ramp in the finals

For the skills events the kids also did well. In Driver Skills, the RoboRunners placed 6th with a high score tied with the 5th place team. Considering they didn’t have time to complete their third round of Driver Skills they were happy with the placing.

RoboRunners are programming skills champions

The most exciting part of the day was placing 1st in Programming Skills and receiving another trophy. Once again some of the teams there were very surprised that our “new and unknown” team did so well in this area of the competition.

RoboRunners now have the highest programming score in the state and are ranked 45th in the world among both elementary and middle school teams. Pretty amazing for a team that is barely a month old!