Chelsea HS Robotics Battle Down to the Wire


Chelsea HS “Technical Difficulties” robotics team showing some new hardware after their grueling win.

By Wynne Van Hoek, Sophomore on the Chelsea FRC

Photo credits: Nikki Taylor

It was an exciting weekend for Chelsea’s high school robotics team, Technical Difficulties. The team traveled to Milford for their first qualifying competition of the season on Friday and Saturday, the 11th and 12th of March.

Technical Difficulties, true to their name, encountered several challenges during the competition as parts broke or malfunctioned in the course of gameplay. Repairs had to be done quickly, without the luxury of a full shop. Nevertheless, by midmorning on Saturday, Technical Difficulties had completed their 12 qualification matches, scoring seven wins and five losses, and was ranked ninth out of the 36 teams at the competition.

Drivers Anson Eberle (closest) and Andrew Hilbert scoring points while fending off attacks helped Chelsea beat its rivals for first place.

After qualifying matches, the top teams of the competition selected alliance partners to compete in a single elimination playoff bracket. Technical Difficulties landed a strong alliance with team 862, Lightning Robotics from Canton, and team 4362, Gems Robotics from Brighton. These two powerhouse teams each have a long - and successful - history, and impressive robots to back them up.

Technical Difficulties’ alliance won its way through quarterfinals and semifinals, each round presenting new obstacles to overcome. The final round followed the same pattern that the alliance had seen in the earlier two: first a win, then a loss. At this point, the entire competition would be decided in the third, and last, match of the day. In a gym packed with students shouting their voices hoarse, after weeks of building and training, and with the hopes of their teams driving them onward, the final two alliances took the field. The ensuing match was two and a half minutes of pure robotic dominance. Both sides seemed evenly matched, and when the final buzzer rang, no one knew who would emerge on top. When the results were at last revealed, the cheering that erupted from the stands was the loudest heard all day. Technical Difficulties, Lighting, and the Gems had won the match by just one point.

The Milford competitive field displayed a lot of talent.

The triumph was even more satisfying for the teams because of who they had outscored; the other finalist alliance was comprised of team 2834, The Bionic Blackhawks, team 503, Frog Force, and team 240, Tempest. Big names in the robotics world, the first two teams are part of the Hall of Fame, meaning that they have won one of the most coveted awards, the Chairman’s Award, at the championship level.

Additionally, Technical Difficulties won the Innovation in Control award. This recognized the team’s successful execution of an innovative controls system on their robot. Specifically, it was awarded because of the robot’s cargo shooter, which uses carefully designed geometry, sensors, and automation to quickly and accurately score game pieces on the field.

Technical Difficulties’ 1502 successfully climbs the rope portion of the competition.

Technical Difficulties had a successful and exciting start to their competition season. The team will compete in one more qualifier, on March 25-27 in Saline. They hope to do well in both of these competitions so that they could get the chance to qualify for regionals, the next level of competition. More information on the Saline qualifier, as well as a link to the livestream (If you have never seen a robotics competition we HIGHLY recommend checking out the live stream), can be found here: event is free entry for spectators, but it is usually standing room only. Information about Chelsea Robotics can be found on their website:

With the next competition rapidly approaching, the students on Technical Difficulties are sure to have just one thing in mind: Eat! Sleep! Robots!

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