Improving on their previous second place finish at the Lincoln High School event in March, the Dexter Dreadbots (3656) won it all at the FIRST Robotics Lakeview District Event in Battle Creek that ran April 5-7. Dexter’s 2018 robot performed solidly throughout the event, a satisfying outcome given the team’s emphasis on robustness and reliability in mechanical, electrical and programming aspects during the frenzied six-week build season.
Autonomous code (where the robot drives itself) and remote operation (when the team members drive the robot) both consistently delivered top performance. The Dreadbots battled past 39 other teams with an unrivaled 11-1-0 record in qualifying matches and earned the right to captain the top-seeded alliance.
FIRST Robotics matches are played between two alliances, each consisting of three robot teams. The Dreadbots chose the Tech-Vikes (2054) from Hopkins and the Homer Robotics Club (7209) from Homer to be their partners for the finals. This trio rolled to a hard-fought but decisive tournament victory with six straight wins in the elimination rounds, including a nail-biter final match against a stubborn alliance that simply would not quit.
In addition to bringing home gold medals for winning the overall event, the Dreadbots scored the General Motors Industrial Design Award. This is the team’s second Industrial Design award of 2017 and the fifth in the team’s seven-year history. The judges who awarded Dexter’s team this coveted trophy specifically mentioned features contributing to the robot’s strength and reliability. These included the student-welded steel frame, the use of constant force springs to counteract gravitational forces and the unique cantilevered mechanism that permits Dexter’s robot to climb at the end of each game in a fashion that allows alliance partners to also climb – a challenging task in this year’s game.
The Lakeview victory boosted the Dreadbots’ standing in the state to #12 of 508 teams and secured an invitation to the Michigan State Championship at Saginaw Valley State University April 11-14. At SVSU, Michigan’s top 160 robotics teams will be competing on four fields. After the State Championship, many of the most accomplished Michigan teams will qualify for the FIRST Robotics World Championship to be held at the COBO Center in Detroit April 25-28. The Dreadbots like their chances of qualifying for Worlds this season, as they have in four of their previous six seasons.
All FIRST Robotics events are free and family friendly.