9/15/13 Update

FTC Season 2013-2014 is finally under way!  Last week, this year’s challenge — “Block Party” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPAATO-NpcM) — was revealed at the PTC Headquarters in Needham, MA.  As the name implies, this year’s challenge involves the movement of blocks.  Like last year, each round will involve four teams, each with two drivers and one coach, divided up into two opposing alliances.  Located in the center of the field are two pendulums with baskets attached to them.  On either side of the field there will be two goals with 2 x 2 x 2 inch cubes scattered throughout.  The primary goal is to move the cubes into the baskets on the pendulum, with a bonus multiplier if the pendulum is balanced at the end of the round.  However, a robot can only control four cubes at a time, although the specific guidelines on how this will be carried out were unclear at the kickoff.  In addition, bonus points are given for hanging on a bar connecting each of the alliances’ pendulums, cranking a flag up a certain height, and accomplishing a variety of tasks during the 30 second autonomous period.  At the moment, prototyping is picking up steam, and the general consensus appears to be using  ‘rolling’ mechanisms such as wheel sweepers or modified conveyor belts to pick up and dispense the cubes.  Next week we will continue to build, fundraising and outreach will begin, and the new policy of programmers getting priority on Mondays will be put into place.  Here’s to a successful season, and as always, stay classy.

– Kevin Le, Outreach Team Leader