Somehow we have designed, built and cheered our way through the last 3 months without a webpage update! I will take that to mean we were having too much fun! With the team growing from ±20 students last year to nearly 45 students this year we have really had to mix things up to get the best out of all of our students. Check out the build season weekly updates on the Multimedia page to see what was accomplished each week. Not too shabby!
We attended two competitions this year – WPI in Week 2 and Hartford in Week 5. The progression of the team from the first match in Week 2 to finishing off in the semifinals in Hartford was astounding. The mentors and parents could not have been more proud from every point of view – technically we improved the robot up until the very end, the team’s enthusiasm and energy was awesome and led to the team winning the Spirit Award in Hartford, the the maturity of the students is continuing to grow. It is great to see a team push to be as good as they can be and then see that not only are they learning about the robot and working together as a team but that they are great people too. It warms the heart.
With that said, we have several off-season events to look forward to (check out the calendar) to continue with FIRST Stronghold!
On Saturday 1/9/16, RAGE, along with more than 3,000 other teams across the world found out what the 2016 game is (Thanks to Team MAX 1071 and Wolcott High School for hosting the kickoff!). STRONGHOLD is a mix of old and new – medieval defenses, charging the castle and launching “boulders” at the enemy. The “new” is doing it with modern technology – a robot that can traverse over rough terrain and moats, open gates, pick up boulders and finally climb the tower. With changing defenses and audience participation, the competitions are sure to be exciting!
For all of the details, please go here!. At the FIRST website you can find the game manual, the kickoff video and all sorts of useful information.
It didn’t take long before the team was together strategizing, deciphering the rules and figuring out which items to focus on.
Here we go…..
There are two more days until the 2016 FIRST Robotics competition rules are released. Beginning at 10:30 am on Saturday, there will be a live broadcast of the new “game”. We’ve already gotten a sneak peek at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVLdJdoKK2E
Below are some additional links:
In case you aren’t joining us at the Wolcott kickoff event, the live feed can be viewed at: http://corporate.comcast.com/news-information/news-feed/2016-first-robotics-competition-kickoff
The FIRST Robotics Competition FIRST STRONGHOLD landing page: http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/welcome-to-first-stronghold
Keep checking for more details!
Below is an interesting article from the firstinspires.org website. It was written by a FIRST favorite – Dr. Woodie Flowers, Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
In your lifetime, many things will change dramatically. If you accept what most schools offer as preparation for the future, you may be disappointed. Often, we adults are too confused and disorganized to give you a good future-oriented education. Instead, we many times offer years of training and testing. You must save yourself.
We have created a world that changes faster than most of us are willing to accept. It is no surprise that the education system is not keeping up. For one thing, we have conflated education and training so it is up to you to recognize the difference. Training is necessary but not sufficient. Learning calculus, for example, is training. Learning to think using calculus concepts is education. Mastering spelling and grammar is training, while learning to communicate effectively requires education. Many topics can be similarly divided.
Economics will drive humans away from conveying facts as surely as robots have replaced humans in automobile assembly. Therefore you should become accustomed to being trained by machines while relentlessly seeking education from other humans.
Machines will soon dominate training. Data-driven and artificial-intelligence augmented systems will offer future students personalized training, customized and infinitely patient. This codified content delivery system will not only lead students through their homework, but will give feedback a thousand times more accurate and relevant than a few red marks on paper received a week after completion.
True education is much more likely to involve doing things with expert mentors and peers. Education will be much harder to get than training. Aggressively pursue true education because it will change the way you see yourself. Through true education, you may learn, for example, that you can do something difficult, new, unique, complex, or beautiful. You will know those things from your own experience rather than because you made an “A.” True education will make you attractive as a partner and citizen. True education will help you insure that, mid- career or mid-life, you will still be able to do things machines cannot yet do. You will still be able to make uniquely human contributions.
If you are rewarded for being an effective passive learner, making good grades on codified tests — congratulations! However, do not let yourself be content with that behavior. No one will hire you or respect you for solving the problems at the end of the chapter. You must become an active participant in your own true education. If you do that, you have a much better shot at a meaningful life.
Programs like FIRST® can be a great “true education” experience. Use it as such. Squeeze out of these experiences insight about how you learn and how you think. Such programs can help you understand not only Mother Nature’s laws, but can help you understand yourself.
– See more at: http://www.firstinspires.org/community/inspire/advice-for-students-about-true-education#sthash.AZaQchmC.dpuf
Join RAGE for our open house on Thursday, September 24, starting at 7:00. This is a chance for students who may be interested in joining the team to come and find out what we’re all about. Hear about the details of the FRC program. See some of our past robots and where we build our new ones. Chat with returning team members and mentors to get all your questions answered.
We are located in room 79 at Tolland High School. Enter the school at the main entrance and follow the signs. We welcome all high school students from Tolland as well as from surrounding towns and those who are home schooled.
RAGE Robotics, based at Tolland High School, took first place this past weekend at the North Shore District competition in Reading, Mass. Forty high school robotics teams from all across New England came together for two days of head-to-head matches between robots to determine who had the best robot and drive team. The winning alliance of teams included RAGE (173); Overclocked (246) from Boston, Mass.; and rookie team The Outliers (5687) from Portland, Maine.
In this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) challenge, teams had six weeks to design, build, and program a robot to play Recycle Rush. In the game (played on a 27’ x 54’ field), teams remotely operating their robots had to stack one-foot-tall plastic totes up to six high on special scoring platforms. They could triple their stack score by additionally placing a full-size recycling container on top of the pile. Teams could also earn points by placing “litter” (pool noodles) inside the recycling container and by throwing them into their opponent’s zone.
High school students work side by side with teachers, experienced engineers, and parents to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts in a hands-on environment throughout the school year. The robots can measure up to 28” by 42” by 78” high and weigh as much as 120 pounds. Matches are played between alliances made up of three teams each (six robots on the field). The alliance makeup varies match to match, so requires the teams to work with each other in addition to against each other.
During its six-week build season, which lasted all of January and half of February, RAGE had to deal with multiple snow-day cancellations, a high school evacuation and closure which forced to the team to move its entire build operation to another site for several days, and a sharply reduced budget for parts and supplies. Even through these adversities, the team came together to create a highly functional robot and a very effective drive team.
RAGE will be competing again in the Hartford District competition taking place March 28 and 29 at Hartford Public High School, then in the New England District Championship on April 9–11 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
RAGE (Robotics And Gadget Engineering) is made up of high school students from Tolland, Ellington, Vernon, East Hartford, Manchester, and surrounding towns. The team is a member of the nonprofit FIRST organization, which promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to students of all ages through various types of robotics programs. In the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), teams of high school students are given a new challenge each January and then have six weeks to design and build a robot to meet that challenge. The 2014/2015 school year marks RAGE’s 20th anniversary. The team is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity that relies solely on corporate sponsorship and receives no funding from the schools or towns. More information is at http://ragerobotics.com.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen in an effort to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Programs exist for students of all ages from first grade through high school. See http://usfirst.org for more information.
To the theme song of "2001: A Space Odyssey," a robot with a twisty spine rolled toward Thomas Rosenbaum, the new president of the California Institute of Technology, on Oct. 24, as he stood on a stage at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
This robot, called Surrogate, or "Surge" for short, was strutting its moves at a ceremony honoring Rosenbaum, who was being inaugurated the same day at Caltech. Surrogate delivered a digital tablet to Rosenbaum, which he used to push a button that initiated commands for NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity.
The scene for Surrogate’s job that day was calm compared with other situations that a robot of this kind might one day encounter.
"Surge and its predecessor, RoboSimian, were designed to extend humanity’s reach, going into dangerous places such as a nuclear power plant during a disaster scenario such as we saw at Fukushima. They could take simple actions such as turning valves or flipping switches to stabilize the situation or mitigate further damage," said Brett Kennedy, principal investigator for the robots at JPL.
RoboSimian was originally created for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a competition consisting of several disaster-related tasks for robots to perform. In the trials round last December, the JPL team won a spot to compete in the finals, which will be held in Pomona, California, in June 2015.
Using extra limbs from RoboSimian, Kennedy and colleagues constructed Surrogate at the beginning of 2014. Over the past six months, they have been testing both robots to see which one should compete in the finals.
Finally, they have decided: RoboSimian will represent the team in Pomona.
"It comes down to the fact that Surrogate is a better manipulation platform and faster on benign surfaces, but RoboSimian is an all-around solution, and we expect that the all-around solution is going to be more competitive in this case," Kennedy said.
Surrogate was designed more like a human — with an upright spine, two arms and a head, standing about 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) tall and weighing about 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms). Its strength is in handling objects, and its flexible spine allows for extra manipulation capabilities. But the robot moves on tracks, which doesn’t allow it to move over tall objects. A flight of stairs or a ladder would be problematic for Surrogate, for instance.
RoboSimian is more ape-like, moving around on four limbs. It is better suited to travel over complicated terrain, including true climbing. In addition, Surrogate has only one set of "eyes" — two cameras that allow for stereo vision — mounted to its head. RoboSimian lacks a head but has up to seven sets of eyes, so it can see from its front, "stomach" and sides as well.
The little hat-like appendage on top of Surrogate is called a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). This device spins and shoots out laser beams in a 360-degree field to map the surrounding environment in 3-D. JPL researchers plan to put a LiDAR on top of RoboSimian as well.
The robots run almost identical computer code, and the software that plans their motions is very similar. As in a video game, each robot has an "inventory" of objects with which it can interact. Engineers have to program the robots to recognize these objects and perform pre-set actions on them, such as turning a valve or climbing over blocks.
The RoboSimian team at JPL is collaborating with partners at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Caltech to get the robot to walk more quickly.
Although both robots are impressive to observe, Kennedy does not envision that either prototype would be a companion that could bring you the TV remote or cook you scrambled eggs, for example.
"These robots were specifically developed to go where humans could not, so we have not addressed the many technical and safety issues that come with working side-by-side with people," Kennedy said.
The team is prepping RoboSimian to face the challenges of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. Specifically, the robot will be faced with such tasks as driving a vehicle and getting out of it, negotiating debris blocking a doorway, cutting a hole in a wall, opening a valve and crossing a field with cinderblocks or other debris. There will also be a surprise task.
Although RoboSimian is now the focus of Kennedy’s team, Surrogate won’t be forgotten.
"We’ll continue to use it as an example of how we can take RoboSimian limbs and reconfigure them into other platforms," Kennedy said.
Surrogate received support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
For details about the DARPA Robotics Challenge, visit:
by Stephen Clark
Posted: April 16, 2014
A humanoid “Robonaut” launched to the International Space Station in 2011 will finally receive its space legs when SpaceX’s Dragon cargo carrier arrives at the complex, allowing engineers to experiment with the full breadth of the robot’s capabilities.
The two legs are loaded inside the Dragon spacecraft’s pressurized cargo cabin, ready for launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled as soon as Friday.
The legs will give Robonaut 2, the space station’s humanoid robot, mobility inside the space station’s modules. Officials eventually plan to test the robot outside the station, once it receives upgrades to its upper body.
The dextrous robot, also called R2, includes a computerized torso, head and two arms with hands and five fingers. It is designed to accomplish many of the same upkeep tasks astronauts do every day aboard the space station.
“Robonaut is an example of how we can use robots for repetitive and dangerous tasks in space,” said Andy Petro, head of NASA’s small satellite technology development program.
According to NASA, the legs will be unpacked and attached to Robonaut 2 by the end of June, with an eye toward testing the assembled robot within the confines of the space station’s pressurized modules later this year.
“We call them legs,” Petro said. “They’re not really for walking in the zero gravity environment. They’re used for climbing around.”
The legs have seven joints and stretch out to a length of 9 feet to give Robonaut flexibility when moving around the station.
“At the end, instead of feet, they have clamping devices to allow them to connect to handrails and other objects on the space station,” Petro said.
Robonaut’s use of its legs for climbing frees up its hands and fingers for finer tasks, such as working with tools or repairing systems.
Go to http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/009/140416robonaut/ to read the rest of the story.
On Saturday, November 23, eighteen FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams from middle schools around central Connecticut will gather at Tolland High School to compete for bragging rights and a chance to participate in the Connecticut State FLL Championship. The 14th Annual East of the River FLL Tournament is sponsored each year by RAGE (Robotics And Gadget Engineering), a high school robotics team who participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). This year marks the first time being held at Tolland High School, having been located at Vernon Center Middle School and Rockville High School in past years.
The theme of this year’s FLL challenge is “Nature’s Fury.” Area FLL teams, composed of up to 10 middle school students, are tasked with building a robot out of LEGO and LEGO Mindstorms that will autonomously run “missions” on the competition table, a 4’ x 8’ table with markings and game pieces. Teams learn more about some of the extreme weather the world has been experiencing in recent years, and how to prepare and deal with it. Scenarios include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and so forth.
Teams also research these weather phenomena and create a project and presentation to show how they might prepare for natural disasters. A panel of judges rates the team on numerous criteria and provides members with feedback.
The competition is free and open to the public. Opening ceremonies take place at 9:00 a.m., followed by a full day of table-top robotics matches and project presentations and judging. Awards should be complete by about 4:30. Tolland High School is located at 1 Eagle Hill, Tolland.
The state FLL Championship will take place on Saturday, December 7 at Central Connecticut State University.