Teamwork, cubes, and robots

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The robot apocalypse is on the rise, what with artificial intelligence, military robots, and vending machines. Yet some brave high schoolers venture into the terrifying world of technology for fun. After all, they are very good at it.

The marion robotics club is split up into two teams, “Drop it like it’s bot,” and “Element of surprise.” Each team has their own robot that the devoted high schoolers build by themselves. One person who plays a key role in the team is senior, Neil Sharma. Sharma has been involved in robotics since his freshman year. “Robotics is a club where High schoolers gather to assemble robots and to participate in various activities at competitions,” Sharma said. The two teams program their robots for competitions. They are judged in three different categories.

The first category is the “autonomous” category. The team pre-programs their robot to do a certain task. This year that task is parking their bot into a certain area. The team can score extra points by knocking an opponent’s colored cube off a pedestal.

The second category is the “teleop” category. The robot, being controlled by two drivers completes a task. That task this year is picking up a cube. The difficult part about this is that there are two drivers: one who moves the robot, one who moves the arm, and one coach, telling the drivers what to do. “It takes a lot of teamwork and coordination to control the robot,” Sharma said.

The last task is referred to as “endgame” and takes place in the last 30 seconds of of the competition, this is where the team can score extra points by picking up heavier or more stuff.

Sharma plays a key role in the team. He is the second driver, meaning he controls the arm during “teleop”. He also is a notebook keeper. The notebook is a record that the team keeps of how they built their robots, the community projects that the team takes part in, and the fundraisers they set up.

Another team member, Kian Wiemer, senior, is also a notebook keeper. Weimer has been in robotics for the past two years. “I love the environment and it helps prepare me for college,” Weimer said. Weimer is going to college for engineering, and robotics gives him a lot of hands on experience. At the last competition, Sharma who is on “Element of surprise,” and Weimer, who is on “Drop it like it’s bot,” won three out of five of their competitions. The next time you can catch their strange bot will be at Linn Mar, on December 21st. While the team may not be creating artificial intelligence or vending machines, they are creating really cool robots. Even though they are creating awesome robots, they probably won’t take part in the robot apocalypse.

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