The Dreadbot drive team parks Woofer under the stage at the end of the game, suspensefully awaiting the match scores. (Photo by Cory Schimelfening)

By Peter Hilliard, Dreadbot Reporter

Nearly undefeated, The Dexter Dreadbots advance to the state competition after an exciting Troy event. The Dreadbot’s qualifying match win rate improved drastically from ~56% in Belleville to ~92% in Troy. “We took all the issues we had, and improved upon them.” Says Liam Harkness, the electrical subteam lead. These upgrades were made largely on the vision and programming aspects of the robot. The Dexter team ended up as captain of the # 2 alliance, and nearly won the entire event, finally falling to the # 1 alliance after forcing finals to a nail-biting tiebreaker.

“At Belleville, we had no vision,” says strategy subteam member Luke Baur. Between Belleville and Troy, the vision subteam worked hard to incorporate machine vision into the bot. With one camera mounted low to allow the robot to know where it was on the field, students used linear algebra and pose estimation to drastically improve autonomous control of the robot. This allowed for higher consistent scoring during the autonomous portion of the matches.

The physical strength of the robot was improved as well between the Belleville and the Troy events. “The main thing we made more robust was the shooter: every piece of metal, every piece of polycarb was buffed up, (which is to say that) we used thicker versions,” Mechanical sub team lead Hanne Neilsen says. Additionally, preventative maintenance was performed. For example: each day of competition, the chains controlling the arm were replaced to maintain reliability.

The Drive team shows off our Innovation in Controls award. (Photo by Cory Schimelfening)

The Dreadbots also won the “Innovation in Controls” award, recognizing the programming sub team’s success in incorporating advanced PID control algorithms, which allow the robot to drive straight with precision, and haptic feedback, which allows the drivers to feel when a note has been picked up via controller vibration.

Woofer speeds across the field with the use of PID control algorithms. (Photo by Cory Schimelfening)

The State championship pits the top 160 teams in Michigan against each other with four fields simultaneously in play at Saginaw Valley State University’s cavernous field house. The Dreadbots are hoping to do well enough at the State Championships to qualify for the Worlds competition.

Woofer climbs the stage chain using its MKII climber hooks. (Photo by Cory Schimelfening)

The Dreadbots encourage you to join them. “It really helped me learn a lot of new skills I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” says Izzy Martinez, a 1st year member on the mechanical subteam. You can contact us at

Does your child want to get in on the robot fun, but isn’t in high school? The Dreadbots, who’s team motto is “Building People by Building Robots,” and Dexter Community Education support k-8 robotics teams in Dexter through our DROID program. DROID teams build and compete in the fall. For more information, email

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