The FIRST Robotics Competition 2017 Competition Game is FIRST STEAMworks, a steampunk-themed game in which robots attempt to fuel and launch airships through scoring fuel balls into their alliance's boiler on one side of the field. Teams earn points by scoring balls into either the high or low goals of the boiler, thus generating "pressure" (measured in kPa). Human players - standing in the airship - can earn points for their alliance through using robot-provided gears to spin each of the four rotors. Robots can then prepare for flight by climbing their rope and attaching to the airship before the end of the match
At first look, this game seemed much more complex then most previous games. The high goal on the boiler was vertical and small, which seemed to make high goal shooting a much more challenging task. The airship in the center of the field was a complex piece of field equipment, with rotors and gear lifts that must be manually activated by the 4th member of the drive team, the Pilot, who was located inside the airship on the field. There are also Hoppers of Fuel located on both sides of the field, which proved useful since bots have no limit as to how many game pieces they can carry and rapid shooting bots quickly ran out of fuel during the game.
Plasma had a successful season this year, ending build season with what we felt was our best designed robot yet. The addition of a CNC to our workspace allowed the team to design parts that were much more complex. It also made designing gussets for our VersaFrame-based chasis and superstructures much easier. Overall, Plasma went to competition with a robot that was capable of competiting in each and every part of the game, from shooting to gear manipulation to heavy defense.
Plasma attended the Utah and Arizona West regionals this year. At the Utah Regional, the team ended ranked second with a ranking score (average rank points per match) of 1.80. During Alliance Selections, the team went down in history for our use of Scorched Earth strategy, as well as our need to phone the audience in order to chose our third alliance member. On an alliance with the Funky Munkeys (846) and Husky Robotics (4585), we made it into the Semifinals, but were unfortunately beaten out by the Third Seed Alliance spearheaded by The HighRollers (987), which went on to win the event. However, we did go home with the Excelence in Engineering Award, a first for the team.
At the Arizona West Regional, the team ended ranked 17th with a final ranking score of 1.18. While not picking this regional, we were picked as the first pick for the 7th Seed Alliance by the MIT Iron Eagles (6674), a rookie team who we helped throughout the season and had the oppourtunity further help on Day 1 in order to get them through inspection. Joining us on our alliance was Dragon Robotics (2375) with their robot "Spyro". After "cheesecaking" our alliance captain with a velcro-based climber, we put up a good effort in the quarterfinals, tying the second match with 305 points and taking it to a third match. However, issues caused us to be beaten out by DM Robotics (6314) who took their alliance to the Finals, only to be beaten out by The Beach Bots (330), who took home the championship banner the previous year. The team once again went home with a first: the Industrial Design Award.
Unfortunately, Plasma was not able to qualify for Championships directly at either of our regionals this season. However, to our luck, we were accepted off the waitlist with several other Arizona Teams and were able to attend the FIRST Championship in Houston, although plans were very last minute due to obvious reasons. We had the oppourtunity to compete in the Roebling Division, where we ranked 22nd with a Ranking Score of 1.6. For the first time in Team History, Plasma was chosen for the division playoffs as second pick of the 6th Seed Alliance with Greenblitz (4590), the M3 Mighty Mechanical Mustangs (4592), and the Iron Panthers (5026). Due to unfortunate stress-filled calls, our alliance captain pulled us out of the second match, and our alliance was defeated in the Quarter Finals. Despite our unfortunate endings, the team had a lot of fun and enjoyed our participation in the FIRST Championships.
FIRST STEAMworks was a great season for Plasma Robotics, and is definitely full of memories that will go down in history.