It takes the skills of an engineer, the focus of an athlete and the motor skills of an experienced video gamer to win a robot competition.
And for dozen of high school students that came to Dunwoody High School Feb. 19, that’s just what they wanted to do.
A statewide robot competition was being held, and dozens of students from schools across the state came to play.
The robot battles are held in a 12 feet-by-12 feet square “field.” The object is for a team’s robot to lift dozens of rings up onto various posts littering the field, or block another team’s robot from doing so. Or — even more cutthroat — lift the rings off an opposing teams post when they are helpless to defend them.
For three teams at Dunwoody High School, the tournament — while intense — was just a tune up.
Under the tutelage of Mark Crenshaw, a teacher at the school, all three robotic teams have qualified for a VEX competition to be held in Orlando in April.
Jack Turner, a member of the Dunwoody teams, talked about the finer points of robot battle strategy at the tournament.
The robots were designed in various ways. One of the Dunwoody High team’s creations, 1264c, was a compact version with a lift that resembled a small plow turned sideways.
The motor on the robot allowed it to quickly get to the rings. The lift was designed to grab rings and hold them.
The robot, Turner noted, was suited for an all-around game.
“We wanted something that’s a good balance,” he said. “If you’re only playing defense, than you end up chasing the other robot around.”
For the qualifying rounds, four robots — two to a side — did battle on the field. Sly Lumpkin, from Calhoun, was one of the few middle-school students competing in the competition. He had mixed results.
He and teammate Alex Barton still were tinkering with their robot as late as the Wednesday before the weekend competition. In one round, a loose wire made the robot spin in hapless circles.
But the pair caught their stride in the later rounds of the qualification. With a new gear that they’d installed for the competition, their fork-lift style robot was all over the field, playing defense in a winning round.
“We can pick up 8 rings at a time,” Lumpkin said. “And then scatter them everywhere.”