By Kaitliyn An
Special to the Tribune
In their last competition of the season, San Marino High School’s Titanium Robotics brought their robot to the FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley Regional, one of the most competitive regionals in the world, performed exceedingly well and won an award for team imagery.
Titanium traveled to San Jose for the three-day competition that brought together teams from across the globe to compete in this year’s game, “Charged Up.” Teams were ranked by their performance in the game that
had robots score points by delivering cones and cubes to their community’s grid and balancing on a teetering “charge station.” Teams were also judged and awarded for their outreach projects that demonstrate the furthering innovation and inspiration in STEM.
Since the beginning of the year, Titanium’s student-led engineering and business teams have been perfecting their projects for this year’s game. This season, the team debuted a new type of drive train, Swerve, which gave the robot heightened speed and mobility. The team also spent a long time perfecting the bot’s pneumatic claw. After lots of trial and error and many redesigns, the wheeled intake was perfected and functioned smoothly for the big competition.
The robot’s arm, which allowed game pieces to be delivered to different levels of the grid, was engraved using the team’s new CNC machine, and showcased the team’s spirit with blue LED lights throughout. Beyond the mechanical and electrical composition, the team had extensive programming projects encompassing vision, positioning and driving that allowed the robot to triumph in both the autonomous period, where the robot runs autonomously on its code, and the teleoperation period, where Titanium’s drive team expertly controlled the robot from outside the arena.
On the business side, the team compiled and prepared things like a presentation on Titanium’s long-standing impact in its community, a mini business plan, the team’s event documentation and marketing, a brand book, and other supplies like brochures, buttons, and cards to handout at the team’s pit set up. The pit acted as the team’s home base where the robot was worked on between matches, as well as where judges, other teams, and spectators could learn about Titanium.
During the first practice day, Titanium was able to meet, scout, and trade pins with other teams. Many of these teams were well established with very advanced builds, some coming from places like Australia, Taiwan or Mexico. Titanium was able to easily resolve a setback with the robot’s limit switch to fix the connection between the arm stowing position and the computer.
During the qualification matches, Titanium competed consistently well, increasing the robot’s speed with each match. Through strategizing with allied teams and collaboration in the pit and between matches, Titanium’s drive team secured many wins and the team ranked 11th out of 59 by the end of qualifications.
This high rank made it so that Titanium became an alliance captain during the playoffs. Titanium, captains of the seventh seed alliance, invited teams 846 and 766 to compete with them in the playoffs. Thanks to Titanium’s scouting project, data from every qualification match was observed and recorded then put into an algorithm designed by the programming team, so the selection process was seamless. Titanium strategized with its allies and worked hard to plan the most effective approach. Titanium was eliminated after two rounds in the semifinals against the top alliances.
FIRST Robotics Competitions go beyond just robots, so beyond competing in the game, Titanium was also able to stand out through its imagery. The team was awarded the Imagery Award, which celebrates attractiveness in engineering and exceptional visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance. There is no doubt that Titanium’s blue and white nature could go unnoticed as Titanium created an extensive brand book that outlines the team’s visual identity. The book emphasizes the importance of distinguishing the team’s appearance, unity in image and presentation, and provides details on everything from the team’s typography and logo to social media and brand partnerships. Titanium’s pit was adorned with blue banners, many members sported blue face paint with Titanium iconography, everyone wore blue and white apparel, and, most importantly, the robot carried on these principles of imagery with its detailed vision system and blue and white exterior.
Ultimately, Titanium was able to learn and thrive in the especially challenging Silicon Valley Regional, ending the season on a very high note. The team’s success in this competition was the result of each individual’s dedication and effort in all aspects of the program. The students’ months of hard work in building, programming, driving, scouting, marketing and business all proved to play a large role in the orchestration of Titanium’s extraordinary performance.
Titanium Robotics is a team consisting of more than 100 students, mainly from San Marino High School, who come together with a common interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students learn from professional engineers and mentors to build and compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Challenge with a robot of their own design. Programming, electrical work, computer-aided design and business management are all run by student representatives, making the entire organization student-led from start to finish.
An is a writer for the Titanium Robotics team.