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Comets’ Victory in Robotics

Beasts of steel clash against one another in a nerve-wracking battle for glory. Last week, the Comets robot, Kushida, won in the Michigan Regional Robotics Competition. With superior speed and agility, this powerful comet sipped across the field.

Everyone at the event jumped for joy. Students would cheer for their team, siblings admired the robots, and parents witnessed the marvels their children created. Participants feasted on seemingly endless food which was provided by the teams. The event featured nostalgic music from the 80s with a roaring crowd embracing the moment. Those who couldn’t come in person could watch over a live stream. Senior Aiden Engvall reported that “The robot came through the curtains with its team sweating behind it. The win is at stake and the drive team silently goes to their control station. The bell sounded and Kushida (FH’s robot) elegantly drove and won for the team.” The robot out-maneuvered all its opponents, with the team screaming from the top of their lungs: “We love you drive team.”

Last week the Comets took the victory in the Michigan regional tournament. The team consists of students from all three Forest Hills high schools. The team created Kushida; named after an active comment around the earth, Kushida was the incarnation of student ingenuity. The robot was designed around a tank drive due to the team’s expertise with such a drive system. Further, Kushida was equipped with rollers capable of grabbing cones and cubes alike. The bot would pick game pieces up by aligning them with a bull bar and intaking them with the rollers. When ready to place a piece, it would extend an elevator to raise its end-effector (hand). All subsystems combined would work in tandem to create a winning star or a big glowing rock in space around a star (a comet).

Image Courtesy by Robotics team 3357.


The FIRST robotics competition involves countless teams across the world, with each one of them creating an innovative solution to an annual challenge. This year robots were required to place traffic cones on poles and small cubes on pedestals. At the end of the round, the teams were asked to balance the bots on a teeter-totter-like ramp. This year flourished a multitude of robot designs each with its strength and weaknesses.

After a hand full of matches, one could see the different approaches of teams around Michigan. One robot couldn’t place cones but excelled in picking them off the ground and handing them over to other players. While most teams experimented with hand-like structures or claws, some teams would implement pneumatic suction or use rollers to handle game pieces. The unique designs did not only differentiate in strategy and the handling of cubes and cones, but also in the fundamental structure of their movement. A hand full of robots would use a shopping cart system, where two wheels would steer and drive the robot with two idling wheels with no function other than stability. Advanced teams would opt for a swerve drive. A swerve drive includes 4 independent wheels all of which have separate steering and driving motors. Lastly, a team might decide to use a tank drive, including 6 wheels where each side would be coupled together, steering by opposing the direction each side would drive to.

Example of Swerve drive:

Image Courtesy of Robotics Team 708.


Example of Tank Drive:

Image Courtesy by Robotics Team 3357.


Example of a Shopping cart:

Image Courtesy by Roling Robots.


Title Image Courtesy by Robotics team 3357.

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