I had a blast at the Houston Regional Championship for the FLL Hydrodynamics season.
Where are all the monster trucks? You won't find any here. This is where we separate the truly efficient machines from the toys. Don't let the little girls in pink capes distract you, they are the engineers of the future. See how they roll:
0:06 Start of 1st Robot Run (Filter r3)
0:11 Filter Mission scores with Jada's Claw (M05 - 30 pts)
0:18 Start of 2nd Robot Run (Pump r8)
0:22 Flow attempted with Ava's Lever Turner but does not score (M02)
0:30 Pump Addition scores (M03 - 20 pts)
0:39 Rain Cloud engaged using Laura's Rainmaker and drops rain to score (M04 - 20 pts)
0:57 Start of 3rd Robot Run (HWRPMFU r22)
1:05 Fountain Mission scores (M07 - 20 pts)
1:13 Water Treatment (Toilet) Mission attempted but does not score (M06)
1:25 Faucet Mission scores using Riya's Butt Lever (M18 - 25 pts)
1:33 Broken Pipe retrieved (M01 - 20 pts)
1:49 Start of 4th Robot Run (FlowerFire r15)
1:56 Tripod Placed using Laura's Tripod Holder, but does not score because all 3 feet are not touching the mat. (M09)
2:16 Big Water dropped into Flower Pot
2:18 Big Water engaged into Flower Pot (M13 - 30 pts)
2:24 Crowd starts cheering for the Fire Truck
2:32 Robot gets into place and starts pushing the Fire Truck (M15)
2:36 Ending buzzard sounds
2:39 Fire Truck puts out Fire (no points scored since this is after the buzzard)
2:49 Woman rants about how hard and rare the Fire Truck mission is! (Well the flower mission is pretty rare as well)
The Brainiac Maniacs attempted 11 missions within 4 robot runs. 7 missions scored, and 4 did not. But that was enough to get them 165 points out of a possible 255 which landed them in 8th place on the robot score which is the top 14%. The Champion's award only requires the top 40%, so they were among the 23 teams eligible to receive the award. And they did. This girl scout team of 9 rookie and 1 veteran member will be advancing to to the World Championship in Houston. Go Texans! (and girl power!)
If you can't get enough of them, check them out on YouTube doing a parody to Elton John's "I'm still standing".
There are a lot of beautiful robot run videos on YouTube showing a team's top score being executed flawlessly from their home with some great theme song playing in the background. Those are great for inspiration, but I prefer actual videos from matches because this shows a lot of the issues that a team will face, and is a better teaching tool to get your team prepared.
The Hydrobots scored a very impressive 240 points at their qualifier at Anderson HS. Alas, I did not see their 2nd round run, but I did capture their 3rd round which only scored 30 points. I show it hear because there are more teaching points to make (and I don't have their 240 point run)
0:07 - The match starts. 33 seconds elapse with at least 3 attempts to start the first mission, before the boys relinquish the field. This is sometimes hard to practice, but definitely have a game plan for how many attempts you will try before moving on. The boys appeared both patient and mature in their decision, so it's still an impressive show of maturity for such young participants. Brian mentioned on FLL Connect that they could have also used a master/menu program. This is something judges at the World Festival expect from the Programming Award recipient, not as the reason for getting the award, but just as a sign that they are a contender.
0:40 - The first pair of technicians give up the field to the next pair.
0:45 - Furniture is talking. This is easy to miss, no one called them out on it, but just be careful, this is not allowed. Once a technician becomes furniture, no more human attributes are allowed.
1:05 - Notice the nod that their robot arm carrying the big water does. This probably helps to assure the placement of the arm at the beginning of the run. Great use of automated setup calibration.
1:06 - The second run leaves base
1:11 - Tripod mission is completed
1:16 - 1st Wall reckoning for alignment, you can also hear a team member telling his teammate "it's okay", which is great evidence of supporting your teammates
1:28 - The flower mission is completed
1:32 - Intentional touch penalty so the robot doesn't have to navigate home. We only saw this once before when SynTex Squad did this at LASA. This is very well executed, from the time of the touch penalty to the launch of the next robut run is only 12 seconds.
1:44 - The third run leaves base.
1:48 - Big water released from pump
1:50 - 2nd wall reckoning
1:53 - Pump addition pushed to North Wall
1:55 - Pump addition moved into target, though upon close inspection it doesn't make it all the way in.
1:58 - 3rd wall reckoning
2:03 - Touch penalty, to recovery from stalled robot. This transition took them 17 seconds and it's a very impressive use of teamwork, both team members work very effectively and don't get into each other's way.
2:20 - The fourth run leaves base.
2:25 - Touch penalty, which may not be impressive in itself, but they identified within 5 seconds from leaving base that something was wrong and because they were still transporting their payload were able to take it back for a retry.
2:30 - Relaunch of forth run.
2:35 - 4th wall reckoning for alignment.
2:38 - Time is called by the announcer (Kristi)
Great to see such a young yet mature team. They had great mastery of my two favorite forms of mechanical automation: starter blocks and wall reckoning. I didn't see any line following or line squaring which in my opinion are very inefficient for the amount of advantage it can buy you. They do have light sensors, but it looks like they use it to gauge where they are on the field, but not for alignment.
Their robot never moves very quickly, which is probably on purpose to assure the alignment. This is usually the case with high scoring teams, slow and deliberate especially after an alignment has been made appears to produce higher scores. The only time I have seen a very fast robot was last year's team from China. I don't recall their rank in the regular game, but during their encore game the day of the awards ceremony they were runner up.
This was not a high scoring run, they did have touch penalities, but I am not sure which one of their missions didn't score. Marlon mentioned that they didn't score the flower in the 2nd round run, so there potential score is higher than 240. They are a team to watch at Regionals. Typically 5-10% of teams score 2x above the median score for the game, but this is miles above that threshold. See FLL Scores for the latest statistics.
FLL Coach since 2015