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Friendly robot wars

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GATHER ‘ROUND:Members of the North Miami WarriorTech team observe their competitive robot in action.
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WARRIORTECH 2019: The 2019 North Miami WarriorTech team stands behind the robot they built for this year’s “Robot Ruckus” competition.
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ROBOTIC FUN:From left, North Miami students Freshman Landin Wagner and Junior Tommy Lane work together to operate this year’s WarriorTech robot in a practice of the Indiana FTC’s “Robot Ruckus” competitive game.

By Brian Powers - bpowers@perutribune.com

Members of the North Miami Junior/Senior High School WarriorTech team are gearing up for their upcoming season of robotic competition, and will be hosting a competition of its own Feb. 16, according to WarriorTech coach Tara Lane.

Lane said the team has designed its robot specifically for this year’s game, called the “Rover Ruckus,” where teams face off and try to grab as many “minerals” (wiffle balls and plastic blocks) and place them in designated areas in a two-and-a-half minute span.

According to WarriorTech member Kaylee Lane, each of the competing teams design and build their robots and work on them throughout the season.

“There’s no kit or anything,” she said. “Every robot’s different.”

North Miami’s Warrior Tech robot has two students operating it simultaneously – one student driving and one student operating the arm.

According to WarriorTech mentor Kirby Lane, the students are able to make adjustments to their machines throughout their season, with successful designs being replicated by other teams.

The WarriorTech program is part of a larger, statewide program called Indiana FIRST Tech Challenge, and members of the Miami County team feel like they’re hitting their stride after competing in Worlds in Detroit, Michigan, last year.

“We’re a lot more competitive not than we were before,” Kirby Lane said.

Each year of the FTC competition has students in grades 7-12 facing different games and challenges, so students are forced to build and design a robot for each season.

As part of the FTC requirements, student team members are expected to maintain a binder outlining all stages of their work, and they will have to interview with the judges.

While it could be expected that teams want to beat the other competitors, Kirby Lane said the Inspire Award is the most sought-after, which embodies the spirit of the competition.

“This program is actually about 20 percent robot and 80 percent team-building,” he said.

“It’s a highly collaborative effort,” Tara Lane added. “The school has also been so supportive of our program.”

Part of that support includes a 3-D printer granted to WarriorTech from North Miami Schools, which all agreed has been a massive asset to both the design and implementation of their robot.

The Feb. 16 event North Miami is hosting is called the Arrowhead Qualifying Tournament, and 33 teams are to be facing off beginning at 10 a.m. The event will be free to attend and volunteers will be collecting matchbox cars to donate to the Dukes Memorial Auxiliary.

“There’s really no reason not to come,” Kirby Lane said. “I say it’s like half-party, and half-event.”

Tara Lane said the opening ceremonies kick the event off at 10 a.m. and teams will compete until a lunch break at noon, and she expects the action to close around 5 p.m.