By Abhi, Karina, Evan, Janavi, Austin, Justin, and Shaggy
Task: Attend the 2018 UIL Robotics Competition
For those who don't know, UIL Robotics is the premier state robotics competition for Texas. Iron Reign has been a beta-testing partner since its inception, and this year was the event's first year as a full-fledged program.
To participate in UIL, a team must win at a Regional level, and have a good overall showing. This year, since we got 2nd Inspire at Regionals and 3rd Inspire at Oklahoma Regionals, we were a shoo-in for an invitation. Being a state event, the DISD STEM Dept. supported us through transportation, food, and lodging along with other DISD teams such as Mechanicats.
The Night Before
As with all Iron Reign tournaments, we stayed up way longer than we should have. But, unlike other times, we had a purpose: to help fellow teams.
We assisted the other DISD team, Mechanicats with programming and driver practice. In particular, they didn't have a working autonomous to begin with. But, with our half-field and glut of programmers, we helped them create a basic autonomous for the next day. As well, we collaborated on their TeleOp to make it more driver-friendly.
The Day Of
We walked into the tournament, tired, but excited for the last tournament of the season, led by our two robots, Kraken and C.A.R.T. BOT. Kraken is our Relic Recovery robot; a tank on wheels with specially cut aluminum sideplates and our proprietary REVolution system. So, it got plenty of looks. Then, we also brought the newest addition to the Iron Reign family: CART BOT. CART BOT is the automated corpse of our robot cart. For the past month, we've been tearing it down, replacing its wheels, motorizing it, adding a power source, and so much more. It tops out at 20 MPH and can carry 300 lbs. without blinking an eye. Naturally, we thought UIL was the perfect place to bring it out.
Since UIL is the last tournament of the season and has no real consequences, we use it as a trial field for next year's changes. First, we had Evan lead our pit crew team as practice for next year. As well, we used the competition to practice driving for next year as well as improve our scouting strategies after worlds.
One of the best things about UIL is the ability to really interact with other Texas-area teams that we normally wouldn't see until Supers. A lot of the teams came over to see our robot, which is kind of understandable because it's probably the best robot we'll ever build. But, we had a surprising number of teams come up to talk to us about our Engineering Journal, including people who had already seen our journal online and wanted to talk about it to us in person (Vitruvian Voltage).
Even though we enjoy UIL, it's never our best competition of the year. Some of this is due to exhaustion; we tend to run out of steam by then, but it can also be attributed to that UIL is a robot-game intensive event, and Iron Reign tends to focus more on awards. So, we tend to comparatively underperform as compared to a theoretical Iron Reign stand in.
We started off the day in a bad place, as one of the chains on the robot snapped for the first time in the season. However, we still managed to win the match as we were carried by our partner. But, we managed to do decently in the next four matches. This wasn't entirely due to luck, it was just that we had more competition experience than some of the other teams due to Worlds, and were able to perform more effectively.
Luckily, our scouting paid off, and we were chosen as the first pick of the #1 alliance. We won our first final match, but then lost the next two due to unreliability.
The UIL Difference
Unlike FTC, UIL puts much less of an emphasis on judging. First, there aren't any presentations: everything is done at the pit. In addition, UIL judges are FRC first, and FTC second, so they weren't aware of many differences between the two. Finally, the awards mean nothing.
This was the last competition of the season, so now Iron Reign will go into Funding, Outreach, and Recruitment mode for a while for the next season, but keep track of our blog to see what we'll do next. Relic Recovery '17-'18, signing off.