On Saturday, September 10, Loveland Robotics’ two FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams, Nuts and Bolts and The Bionic Tigers kicked off their season with this year’s game reveal. Every September, FTC teams attend a kickoff event, where they learn what the year’s game will be, this year’s game is called Power Play. Each year, Loveland hosts a kickoff event to allow teams to see the field and ask questions about this year’s game.
Power Play is played by two competing alliances of two teams. The match starts off with a thirty-second autonomous period, during which the robot must move completely independently of human control. Next, the game has two minutes for drivers to score as many points as possible. Teams must score cones on towers, and the more cones deposited, the more points that team receives. The higher the tower that the team scores on, the more points the team receives. The alliance with the most points at the end wins the match. Teams with the most wins will advance to the elimination matches, and from there, the best teams will advance to higher-level competitions. Allison Spitzley (11), the team lead for Loveland’s FTC robotics team Nuts and Bolts, said that this year’s game is “a uniquely easy game that depends on a deep strategy” because of the game’s relative simplicity.
After the game reveal, both teams begin brainstorming sessions to plan out this year’s robot. Following that, the teams will begin building their robots. They will continue to build until November when the competitions begin.
Both teams’ first competition of the year will be a scrimmage hosted by Loveland Robotics at Loveland High School. After that, both teams will begin competing across the nation, both in-state and as far away as Maryland. Teams do this to attempt to secure a spot at the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in Houston, Texas, which both Nuts and Bolts and The Bionic Tigers have attended in the past. To accomplish this goal, both teams will work long hours to perfect their robots and increase their efficiency. The work pays off when they get to compete with their robot, often taking home lots of hardware.
At the kickoff, teams were all excited to begin the season, but after the game reveal, they were thrilled to begin designing and building their robots. This excitement led Spitzley to say that “I can’t wait to start this new season, from building a robot to programming it and seeing how it competes alongside others, this year’s season is going to keep us at the edge of our seats.”
This season will be many seniors’ last, including Luke Blaker (12), The Bionic Tigers’ team lead. Blaker said that “I'm really excited to end my time in Loveland robotics with such an exciting game that is bound to produce many unique robot ideas and I can't wait to see what we can do as a team this year.”
As teams begin their season, they will not only have a lot of fun, but they will also work together to learn more about STEM and spread STEM throughout the community.