While basketball fans were watching the NCAA men's and women's regionals, there was another equally exciting regional occurring at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It was the FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regional with 42 high school student teams participating. The students have six weeks to build a robot that meets the requirements for the competition. This year, robots needed to quickly gather cargo (over-sized tennis balls) and shoot the cargo into a hub. Points also could be scored if a robot could hang or traverse the rungs of a hangar (similar to monkey bars).
The robots weigh up to 125 pounds, so the engineering design behind lifting and traversing the robot was significant. There is plenty of control technology on these robots with four CAN-bus networked drive motors for rapid movement and steering. A Raspberry Pi is used with cameras for sight, and a National Instruments controller for the robot's brain.
Students work with professional mentors from the community to get hands on engineering, programming, and strategy experience.
Contemporary Controls was a proud co-sponsor of BEAST Robotics Team 2022 from Brookfield, Wisconsin. After 84 qualifying rounds, BEAST Robotics made it to the Finals on an alliance with two other robotics teams. An alliance would need to win two out of three final matches to be a regional winner.
The BEAST Robotics alliance was seen as an underdog because the other alliance had a very effective shooter. But excitement prevailed on the Contemporary Controls' team when the opposing alliance received a red card violation for knocking over a robot. In a close second heat, the BEAST Robotics alliance beat the other alliance with a score of 105 to 97, thereby winning the tournament.
The team now qualifies to compete at the FIRST Championship in Houston, which is an international competition.
FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, with the goal of inspiring students to become engineering and technology leaders. Each year, students are given a new challenge, along with a kit of standard parts. The students are encouraged to design and make additional, specialized parts with help from their mentors. Over 3,800 teams participate in the program, with more than 97,000 students and 29,000 mentors from 34 countries. Of those, about 800 advance to the FIRST Championship.
Contemporary Controls is proud to co-sponsor BEAST Robotics and wish them the best at the championship. If you're interested in seeing the robot in action, video from the regional is available here.