In the Zone at the VEX Robotics Competition

This year’s VEX Robotics Competition saw 32 teams come together for a battle royale over two days of testing technical feats.

Motors whirred, steel arms extended and batteries tested as preparations began on Friday, Nov 17 for the VEX Robotics Competition. In addition to seven homegrown teams from ASIJ, including two middle school teams, local and international teams filled the ASIJ Theater and its lobby with equipment as robot inspections began on Friday morning. Joining us from overseas this year were teams from Chadwick International (South Korea), Foshan Nanhai Yanbu Middle School and Tianjin International School (China), Hong Kong International School, Pearl City High School (USA), Thai-Chinese School (Thailand) and Taipei American School. Local competitors included British School Tokyo, Christian Academy Japan, KAIS International School, St Maur International School and Tokyo Tech High School of Science and Technology.

Once robots passed their inspections, they took to either the Gravitational Field or Magnetic Field to begin the skills challenges. Teams had three chances to accrue points by testing their driving and programming skills. The challenges period ended with Foshang winning the programming and driving skills to end up with an impressive score of 184 in the Robot Skills Challenge Rankings. ASIJ’s 901c team placed fourth in the skills ranking.

This year’s game is In the Zone, played on a 12’x12’ square field. Two alliances composed of two teams each compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by stacking cones on goals, by scoring mobile goals in goal zones, by having the highest stacks and by parking robots. There are 80 cones that can be stacked on ten goals during a match. Some cones begin in designated locations on the field, while others are available to be entered into the field during the match.

Competition was fierce on Saturday and plenty of drama unfolded as robots shed chains and screws, fell over or simply got stuck. For those teams that found their form, the rewards paid off. The first part of the competition ended with Taipei American School’s  4253J in pole position followed by 7090B and 7090A from Foshan. ASIJ’s 901B team was the highest placed Japanese team in eighth place with Christian Academy’s 99484c following in ninth place.

The alliance selection saw teams line up, in order of their rankings, to choose who they wished to partner with for the final stage of the competition. Raid Zero J from Taipei kicked things off by choosing Vesibay Robotics and Midknight from Canadian Academy to join their alliance. ASIJ’s 901A joined the third seeded alliance with HKDragon Alpha from Hong Kong and T-Raptors B from Tianjian. The fourth seeded alliance saw ASIJ’s 901M and 901Z join up with TCIS1 from the Thai-Chinese School. ASIJ’s 901C joined an alliance with two teams from Tianjian and 901B joined CRX-KAIJU from Chadwick International and Tianjian’s TCSI2. ASIJ’s final two teams 901N and 901X formed the eighth seeded alliance with St Maur’s Perihelion.

The final round saw the red alliance of Raid Zero J, Vesibay Robotics and Midknight take on the blue alliance of Vesibay Robotics, Pearl City High School and CRX-OPTIMUS from Chadwick International. The blue alliance won the autonomous round of the first match with 10 points and then went on to score 137 points in the main battle. In the second match the red alliance won the autonomous section and, after a close battle, were victorious overall. With everything to play for in the final match the two alliances squared off. Red started well by winning the autonomous portion. In a hotly contested final round, which saw a stack fall over and robots make a last minute scramble to rack up points, the red alliance won with 100 points—a single point more than blue alliance’s 99 points.

The day ended with the awards presentation where Pearl City High School’s 4142A team took home the Excellence Award. The Design Award went to team 99484 from Christian Academy Japan with Chadwick International’s 6724D tem receiving the Judges Award and Foshan’s 7090A team taking home the Robot Skills Winner Award. The Sportsmanship Award, which is voted on by all attending teams, went to ASIJ’s own 901b team.

Full scores for the event are available on the VEX website.