High school robotics team wins invitational final

Published on Monday, 24 July 2017 22:16


SOUTHINGTON - The Southington High School “Cyberknights” robotics team claimed a major win at an invitational match in Indiana this month, ending the four time winning streak of OP Robotics of Ontario, Canada.

The local robotics team was one of two Connecticut teams and one of 68 total to compete at the event. After a 13-hour bus drive, the CyberKnights competed in an alliance with “Up a Creek” robotics from Colorado, “Nemesis” from New Jersey and “Ravonics Revolution” from Kansas.

The students had been competing at events throughout the country with their robot, “Knightro”, which was designed, built, programmed and refined through their cooperative efforts. The machine is capable of rapid-firing tennis balls that are fed into a hopper in order to score points among other functions.

“Three years ago they played but did not make it to the playoff rounds, two years ago they made it to the quarter finals, last year they were in the finals and this year they won,” said Sandra Brino, team mentor. “This was no small feat as the team had to battle against the four-time reigning IRI Championships Team ‘OP Robotics’ from Ontario, Canada, the NASA team ‘Robonauts’ from Houston, Texas, and ‘Stryke Force,’ the St. Louis Championship winners. All the teams played amazing and our hats are off to our competitors for giving our team the best fight in their history.”

Steve Rutkowski, part of the drive team, said that at the last minute the team was able to install a plate to correct an issue where the ball hopper was jamming.

Chris Bonomi, lead programmer, said he was able to refine the robot’s performance during a segment of the challenge where it had to operate autonomously. He said that seeing everything come together “is a good feeling.”

Ryan Monte, who served on the build team, noted that the robot had once had an issue where it would bottom out and drag along the ground, slowing it down. He was able to put new wheels on it that corrected the problem.

“Words can’t describe it; it’s amazing,” he said “OP Robotics beat us last year in the finals but this time we came out on top.”

Kayleen Carmichael noted that she had spent the final weekend of the robot’s allotted build period trying to find a way to make its wiring fit. Ultimately, space was found under the robot and on its sides. She described making an “umbilical chord” for the robot’s turret that would allow it to turn without damaging wiring.

Kate O’Reilly, who was on the build subteam, said it was “excellent” to see their work pay off.

“After the six weeks it took to build it and all of the stress and hard work, we won the competition,” she said. “It was just amazing.”

Andrew Baur, who was on the CAD (computer assisted design) team and pit team said he was amazed to see that a robot, built in a small Connecticut town, was able to defeat a team that had the resources and backing of NASA.

The team will pick things back up once the school year starts.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Southington Herald on Monday, 24 July 2017 22:16. Updated: Monday, 24 July 2017 22:18.