WA robotics team competes at West High competition

For the first time in several years, the Wasatch Academy Robotics Program (WARP) team competed and took 19th place in a recent competition at West High School, Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of Wasatch Academy)

SALT LAKE CITY — Wasatch Academy (WA) robotics team recently competed at the First Tech Challenge robotics competition at West High School in Salt Lake City.

While WA has had a thriving robotics team in the past, it has been several years since the school last competed. With a completely new set of students participating in the Wasatch Academy Robotics Program (WARP) and a first-year robotics coach, it was a rookie team going into the competition.

In the 24 hours leading up to the competition, dedicated WARP members Jens Evans, Roger Yang, Carter McPherson, Conner Sparks, Dreamie Thompson and Arthur Zheng devoted themselves to upgrading their robot’s hardware and software.

At first the robot was barely able to roll around when driven by a student. By the next day the WARP team’s robot had two functioning arms, a reliable wheelbase, and a robust autonomous (driver-less) component.

The night before the competition was spent problem solving the many inevitable design catastrophes that were encountered along the way.

During that Saturday’s competition, the WARP team was keenly aware of their inexperience. While the robot lacked in flashy features, compared to some of the other robots at the competition, its design included several innovative features that stood out.

The WARP team used a holonomic x-pattern for the robot wheelbase. This simple yet sophisticated drivetrain made the robot extremely maneuverable and agile on the playing field. The WARP robot could easily move in any direction independent of its orientation and it could simultaneously rotate while in motion.

As the only team to use a holonomic drivetrain, WARP had one of the most nimble robots in the arena. Another distinguishing feature of the robot was its flexibility in autonomous mode.

The WARP team had coded six different autonomous programs into their robot that were capable of performing a number of different tasks depending on the strengths of the challenging team’s robot. WARP’s autonomous performance was on par with the strongest teams in the competition.

Overall, the WARP team was happy to place 19th in the competition. But more important than their ranking, the robotics team left West High School feeling inspired and reinvigorated to continue enhancing their robot for the coming competition in early February. In true Wasatch Academy style, the WARP robot has several unique strengths that the team members are eager to refine and improve.