March 25, 2023

By Jim Dietz

Lee’s Summit Team Driven and Lee’s Summit North Broncobots competed in the Heartland FIRST Robotics tournament in Olathe this past weekend.

The FIRST robotics competition founded by Dean Kamen is described as: Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate sport for the mind. High school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.”

Every January teams around the world are given details for that year’s competition that they then will have to design, fabricate and program a robot to compete with and against other robots at regionals held for six weeks around the world. Each team is like a real world company because they also have students that are on a business team to help fundraise and budget, a media team that helps document and increase awareness and a scouting and strategy team that helps size up the competition and determine who they would want to select to be on their alliance in the finals.

At the Heartland Regional 36 teams from across the Midwest competed in 72 qualification matches. Qualification matches consist of 3 teams on the blue side against 3 teams on the red side. Team’s that partner in one match can become their opponent in a different match.

For this year’s competition, teams gathered either a soft sided cube or a traffic cone and placed them in different locations to complete ‘links’ to score points. The first 15 seconds are the ‘teleop’ period where all 6 robots drive a pre programmed route to earn points. The remaining time is driver controlled. At the end of the match the robots then had to drive onto a tilting platform and balance for additional points. Each team earns ranking points in the qualification matches.

Teams that are on the winning alliance or win the FIRST Impact Award or Engineering Inspiration Award will then travel to Houston to compete in the World Championship in April.

Team Broncobots had a solid qualifying with an 11-1 record and 39 ranking points allowing them to be the alliance captain for the number 1 alliance. Team Driven also had a great event finishing third in qualifying with a 10-2 record and 28 ranking points. Driven was picked to be on the number 2 alliance.

Finals are in a double elimination format and the Broncobots and Team Driven ended up battling each other in the Championship best of 3 match’s.

Congratulations to LSN Broncobots on winning the Heartland regional for the second year in a row and earning the chance to compete in Championships. They also won the Industrial Design Award.

Team Driven was given the Quality Award by the judges.

Coming up on March 29 through April 1st, the Greater Kansas City Regional will be held at Lee’s Summit North high school. The event is free to the public and will feature 36 teams from across the Midwest and 2 teams from Brazil. You can come watch the robots compete on the field and walk through the pits, provided safety glasses are required in the pits. You will be able to see them working on and fixing the robots. For the kids many teams will also have buttons or trinkets that they will gladly hand out. It is quite often that you will see kids, students and even some adults covered in many buttons from many events.