VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) — They can drive, hang, and shoot, and no, these aren’t basketball players.
These are robots made from scratch by students, and Saturday was the Robotics of Vermillion’s first test of the new season.
Robotics of Vermillion began four years ago as a small group with just two competitive teams, but they just keep on growing under the direction of L.D. Herrera, and now, they have nine teams.
The teams include kids who joined from surrounding areas like Elk Point and Jefferson. This year’s VEX ID challenge is known as “Pitching In,” and its main objective is to get the yellow balls into the center basket.
Herrera spoke on how his team adapts to different games.
“Sometimes you want to be a big, powerful robot, sometimes you want to be a small, nimble robot and sometimes you need to be able to shoot things,” Executive Director of Robotics of Vermillion L.D. Herrera said. “And like you’ve seen some of the robots tonight, they’re able to shoot those balls and make them pretty accurately into the basket.”
Geoffrey Gray-Lobe served as the main referee today and explained that, so long as the robot meets all requirements and doesn’t violate any specific rules, pretty much anything goes.
“A great guidance that the refs get is that you’re not supposed to make up any rules,” Geoffrey Gray-Lobe said. “So this is all about creative problem-solving so if a kid’s running a robot and they’re solving the problem in a way that does not look like how you play the game, that’s legit.”
There was a skills challenge portion where teams showed off their driving skills using the controls but also skills their machine could do on its own in the autonomous portion. The Wolves team from Robotics of Vermillion took home first place in the junior high skills event, but Gray-Lobe says most teams who didn’t see as much success today will evolve over the course of the season to reach their maximum efficiency.
“They’ll be this convergence on these certain designs that are the ones that are the most efficient way to solve these problems, and that’s happened in each season I’ve been in it, and it’s been really cool to watch because it’s this great collaborative design process that they’re all working on,” said Gray-Lobe.
All teams who won an event Saturday automatically qualified themselves for the Vex IQ State Championship which will also be in Vermillion at the Dakota Dome coming up in February.