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Canada wins gold

Local robotics team RCXRM returned from Moscow, Idaho Feb. 14 with two gold medals for Canada.

Local robotics team RCXRM returned from Moscow, Idaho Feb. 14 with two gold medals for Canada.

The team of Kiel Strang and Ryden Custance were participating in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge, an international youth robotics competition involving more than 200,000 students worldwide. RCXRM was awarded the prestigious Inspire Award for overall excellence, and also won the Winning Alliance award with partners from Washington and Idaho. This qualifies them to represent Canada at the Robot Olympics, the FIRST World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia in April.

FIRST is an international organization whose goal is to nurture creativity and to develop skills and interest in science and technology. FIRST is based on an engineering team model and is billed as "sports for the mind." Teams are judged on their robot performance, robot design, engineering notebook, teamwork and gracious professionalism.

Teams from around the world have been working for several months to design robots to play this year's game, Hot Shot. Robots compete in randomly assigned "alliance" pairs to collect and score wiffle balls into three types of goals. The robot matches include an autonomous period, where the robot relies entirely on pre-programmed instructions and sensor readings, and a tele-operated period where the robots are driven by remote control.

RCXRM's robot PacMan was the crowd favourite, gobbling up huge numbers of wiffle balls and firing them into the off-field goals several feet away. PacMan held up well through the long day of competition and was undefeated in the elimination rounds. RCXRM's clever analysis of the game and innovative robot design allowed them to efficiently collect and score balls and deal with interference from other robots.

RCXRM achieved a top score of 594, which is the current season record for the whole FIRST Tech Challenge program. In addition to a strong performance on the robot field, the team was commended on their gracious professionalism and willingness to assist other teams.

In order to attend the April competition, the team must raise the $1,000 U.S. tournament entry fee as well as other expenses. Watch for them out in the community fundraising and demonstrating their robot. Contact them at 604-885-6472 or email if you would like to help out.

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