FIRST challenge accepted
Revanth Damerla, left, a senior at Bishop Brady, takes notes about the overhead truss, during the FIRST Robotics kickoff of aerial assist, the new robotic challenge, held at Southern New Hampshire University. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
"Winning the game is fun," Kamen told thousands gathered inside the Southern New Hampshire University gym and thousands more watching in 93 other locations via remote broadcast. "But the importance of FIRST is it's going to change the rest of your life."
Dubbed "Aerial Assist," it's a sort of crazy volleyball/soccer contest in which student-designed robots will maneuver balls down a playing field, over a mid-field truss and into high or low goals to score - all while trying to keep opponents from doing the same.
David Udelson of Bow, a senior at St. Paul School in Concord, has done FIRST for three years and said he's never seen anything like this year's challenge. "There's never been this much stress on cooperation between teams," he said while teammates Andy Dienes, a freshman from Concord, and Kelly Gallagher, a senior from Bristol, took measurement of different aspects of the playing field.
As for the game, she said, "It's going to require us to build a more flexible machine that can adapt to more situations - which is a lot like the real world."
"There are a lot of different opportunities and a lot of different ways people can design things, and I'm exciting to see what people will come up with," she said.
The real challenge comes at competition time, when each team is matched up randomly with two other teams to form "alliances." That's when teams will find out whether their robots' strengths are compatible.
It all culminates in the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Mo., April 24 to 26.
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