What do you do when you've fin­ished high school early? Build some ro­bots, of course

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAROLYN BAR­BER

Cabot Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre stu­dents Dy­lan Hines and Ja­cob Fitzger­ald fin­ished their re­quired course­work for high school graduation last fall, but the quest to learn new things con­tin­ued.

The pair be­gan build­ing au­ton­o­mous ro­bots in their spare time dur­ing their fi­nal se­mes­ter. With on­go­ing en­cour­age­ment from Cabot teach­ers Leo Dono­van and Isaac “Ike” Bat­ten, they com­peted at Aca­dia Univer­sity’s 13th An­nual Ro­bot­ics Pro­gram­ming Cham­pi­onships in Fe­bru­ary, earn­ing them a spot at last week’s World Robofest Cham­pi­onships in Southfield, Michi­gan.

“They coached us re­ally well,” said Hines in the days lead­ing up to the event as they were putting the fi­nal touches on their ro­bots. “As Leo would say, he threw us in the deep end of the pool so we could fig­ure it out our­selves.”

“They en­cour­aged us to ex­plore it,” added Fitzger­ald. “They don’t know a tonne about it them­selves. They re­ally helped us on how to learn it and they re­ally en­cour­aged us. They got us into a good work sched­ule too.”

With sights set on the Robofest World Cham­pi­onships, they be­gan de­sign­ing, con­struct­ing, and cod­ing two ro­bots just over a month ago us­ing EV3 Lego Soft­ware Pro­gram. They worked steadily on the project three to four hours per day, in­creas­ing to four to five hours per day in the week lead­ing up to the com­pe­ti­tion.

“It’s ba­si­cally a pro­grammed ro­bot,” said Hines. “You put code into the com­puter and you tell it what to do. It’s very au­to­mated, you don’t con­trol it with a con­troller or a phone or any­thing. It does it on its own. You down­load the soft­ware pro­gram on to the ro­bot and the ro­bot does it for you.”

They named their cre­ations “Wild Allen” and “Bone­saw”.

Wild Allen com­peted in the Clas­sic Bot­tle Sumo Di­vi­sion. In this event, the ro­bot at­tempts be the first to in­ten­tion­ally push a bot­tle off the ta­ble or be the last ro­bot re­main­ing on the ta­ble.

The pair made it to the semi-fi­nals of the Clas­sic Bot­tle Sumo Di­vi­sion, ty­ing for 3rd place out of 19 teams. They placed the best out of all four teams from Canada, beat­ing out the num­ber one Cana­dian team in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“The boys showed great re­source­ful­ness and calm un­der pres­sure in mak­ing dras­tic last-minute ad­just­ments so their ro­bot could meet the 1 kg weight re­quire­ment,” said Bat­ten.

Hines and Fitzger­ald en­tered Bone­saw into the Game Di­vi­sion event. In this event, the ro­bot had un­der two min­utes to a) au­tonomously col­lect ten­nis balls and put them into a box, and b) move empty bot­tles off the ta­ble.

“Dy­lan and Ja­cob strug­gled with tech­ni­cal is­sues with their ro­bot in the first round,” wrote Dono­van. “But then they scored their best-ever sin­gle round score in their fi­nal run. Un­for­tu­nately, both runs counted which left the boys out of the tro­phy hunt for this com­pe­ti­tion.”

In Septem­ber, Hines is set to at­tend crim­i­nol­ogy at St. Mary’s Univer­sity while Fitzger­ald is off to study com­puter science at Dal­housie.

Cabot Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre re­cent grad­u­ates Ja­cob Fitzger­ald (left) and Dy­lan Hines with their hand-built ro­bots “Wild Allen” (left) and “Bone­saw” (right) at the Robofest 2018 World Cham­pi­onship at Lawrence Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity in Southfield, Michi­gan.

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