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Lightning Blue Lizards: The Journey of Robotics Team

Lightning+Blue+Lizards%3A+The+Journey+of+Robotics+Team

The Columbus School’s Lightning Blue Lizards robotics team ranked 10th at the South Florida Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition at the beginning of March.

Last year’s competition consisted of a game where robots scored both cones and cubes onto a grid under autonomous and radio-controlled operation. The Lizards won 9 out of 12 games in the qualification round and were chosen to move on to the finals for the second year in a row.

“This is the first time that team has the potential to be competitive and be the leader in each of the alliances we were part of, this is a huge step for the team and we are proud to finally be winning most matches,” Pablo Arango, LBL driver, said.

The performance improvement results from the introduction of new upgrades to the robot including a faster and more maneuverable drivetrain, more precise autonomous operations, the new pneumatic systems, the incorporation of some Neo motors and upgrades in the coding.

“Last season we spent a lot more time optimizing the mechanical design of the robot while also incorporating a swerve drivetrain and heavily improving our programming to enhance performance, ” Julian Zuñiga, LBL mentor, said.

Despite the new upgrades, the team faced various reliability issues during the competition which prevented them from getting an even better result.

“I believe there were matches in which we could have done a lot better if it wasn’t for the mechanical failures we faced, in the future we will work on identifying them before the competition,” Zuñiga said.

Another challenge for the team was the need to travel with the robot, which complicated the design process. The robot had to be designed to be disassembled to transport it to the U.S, where it was rebuilt for the competition.

“We had a huge challenge as we had to pack the robot in our bags and put it back together at the competition, this not only complicated our design but also resulted in unexpected failures that we had to solve.” Emilia Quintero, LBL team member said.

At the competition, the Lightning Blue Lizards won the FIRST team spirit award. They were also recognized for embracing equity and inclusion throughout the whole season.

“These awards show that the team understands and embraces the core values of FIRST such as gracious professionalism and cooperation while encouraging a diverse and inclusive environment,” Zuñiga said.

The school’s robotics team is now looking forward to working on the pre-season and hopes to use this year’s experience to challenge for the championship in the upcoming years.

“This year we were a lot more organized when designing and planning which gave us a competitive advantage, if we continue working like this I believe we are going to be one of the leading teams at the regional,” Arango said.