It has been over a week since we started the 2009 VEX Robotics World Championship and I think I may finally be caught up on sleep.
I arrived at the convention center last Wednesday a little after noon and immediately went to work helping setup the kiosks in the VEX store and making sure we had computers and printers where they needed to be.
On Thursday I volunteered to help out with robot inspection. The robots are inspected mechanically to ensure they fit in the 18″ cube, use only approved part and don’t pose a significant danger to the players or the field. The last step of inspection verifies they are running the right version of firmware and that their code is compiled with the competition template. The template ensures the robot honors start, autonomous, and stop signals from the field controller. Have you ever tried to communicate “You need to compile your code with a competition template” through a translator? Fortunately most teams had an English speaking member with whom I could communicate.
Thursday was also the day for teams to get settled into their pits, repair any shipping damage to the robots, and hit the practice fields to test strategies and tweak code. A lot of teams made use of the 8 practice fields and lines were kept to a minimum most of the weekend.
The qualification matches ran all day Friday and until noon on Saturday. Each match is played by two teams as an alliance, either red or blue. During the qualification rounds the alliances are assigned randomly. The best ranked teams then participated in a draft to choose their alliance for the finals.
The excitement levels picked up on Saturday as the finals started. There were a lot more spectators and a lot of cheering during the matches. The Puerto Rican teams won the Energy Award for having the most team spirit. I think the Colombians must have been a close second and I was very impressed when they started cheering for Puerto Rico during the finals. I’ll have a post, with video, in a day or two with the Puerto Rican team’s perfect driver skills challenge and their cheer afterwards. They really know how to get fired up and enjoy the emotion of the event.
The final matches were extremely close and exciting to watch. Barring any equipment problems, the winning alliance rarely had more than a few points up on their opponent. Last year China dominated the championship with an alliance of 3 teams winning the championship. This year the United States took the title back with two teams from California and one from Massachusetts.
The 2009 VEX Robotics Champions are:
21b – SPUR-FLYS from Van Nuys, California
44 – Green Egg Robotics from Oakham, Massachusetts
404 – ELCO Red from Woodland Hills, California
If anyone has links to the team websites, please email me and I will add them.