Curiosity Makes a Comeback in BHS Robotics Competition

The Space Race You're Actually Interested In

First Robotics 2019 DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE Game Animation

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Curiosity Makes a Comeback in BHS Robotics Competition

Landsharks' competing robot for 2019, built to focus on hatch panels and the rocket itself

Landsharks' competing robot for 2019, built to focus on hatch panels and the rocket itself

Landsharks' competing robot for 2019, built to focus on hatch panels and the rocket itself

Landsharks' competing robot for 2019, built to focus on hatch panels and the rocket itself

Jac McCarty

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From C3PO to Curiosity the Mars rover, robots abound in real life and pop culture alike. And why shouldn’t they? As of today, nearly half of all jobs require some degree of technological skills, and that percentage is expected to rise to nearly 77% within the next decade, with robots displacing nearly 75 million jobs, and creating nearly double that in new ones.

In this new world we’re heading for, where accounting and secretarial positions are gradually being replaced by artificial intelligence, one ability will stand high above the others: software programming and engineering. As the technology percentage in the workforce continues to rise, the number of people required to manage and maintain this technology will follow the trend, making a talent for tech a possible goldmine.

One club seeks to teach students these skills: the Boulder High Robotics team, better known as the Landsharks. Formed to compete annually in the First Robotics competition, whose Denver regional event occurs this month, each competing team must design a robot that can complete a set bracket of tasks, a bracket which likewise changes annually with each year’s theme.

BHS’s 2010 competition robot

This year is no different. Centered around a fictional Mars mission, two alliances of three robots (each designed by a separate school) must compete to place the most hatch panels and pieces of cargo in the appropriate positions, with additional points being awarded for getting on and off the robot’s ‘habitat’ (some of which are raised above the ground). What’s more, for the first fifteen seconds of each match, the robot drivers are flying blind, either relying completely on autonomous code or operating via a camera system attached to the robot itself.

The alliance with the most number of points at the end of a match will win, and the winning teams can be expected to move up in rank (see the full rules here, or at the top of the page).

When asked, club mentor Daniel Zahner said he had confidence the Landsharks could score in the top 50 percent of competing teams, but it’s impossible to know for sure this early in the game. “We’ll know a lot more in a couple weeks.”

Famous for their flair in decorating, the team is going in a different direction this year, with a Scott Carpenter themed pit and costumes. Scott Carpenter, a Boulder High graduate and Mercury 7 astronaut, was the fourth person in space and the second American to orbit the Earth. Zahner reports drivers will be wearing spacesuit costumes, and that the robot itself will be decorated within the space theme as well.

In response to the ‘flying blind’ aspect of the competition, the Landsharks plan to take advantage of the option to drive via a robot-attached video camera, as it will be more accurate and advantageous to them in the long run.

At the competition itself, spectators can expect to see bedazzled robots, costumed drivers, and enough behind-the-scene drama to make it worth the drive.

When: March 23rd (8:00-5:00)

Where: University of Denver, Ritchie Center, Magness Arena

2240 Buchtel Boulevard, Denver CO

Admission is free, and there is pay parking on-site. For more information, click here.

Good luck, Landsharks!