BATAVIA – The robots hustled in the competition pit, scooping up green bean bags in mechanized shovels and dumping them into raised troughs, their designers at the controls.
Then the competing team's robot toppled over, its wheels spinning uselessly as the controller tried to use its scooper mechanism to right itself.
Too late. The round was over and the next competitors stepped up while the teams carried their robots off to be adjusted.
The Great Lakes-Midwest -Illinois VEXRobotics Championship held Saturday at Sam Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, was an all-day tournament where 48 teams competed. T was by Batavia Robotics and Fox Valley Robotics hosted the event which drew participants from the Chicago metro area, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Allen Newendyke of Batavia, was the coach for his team, Simply Complicated, made up of his son, Ryan, 16, daughter Alexis, 12 and Ryan Moser, 17, of Elgin.
"We're having some difficulty but normally, we run better than that," Newendyke said as he was making adjustments to the mechanism.
Moser said he enjoys designing robots and seeing how they work.
As to their opponent's robot tipping over and giving them an unexpected advantage, Moser smiled.
"You don't wish them to tip over, but it's just part of the design," Moser said. "If you have a high center of gravity it's more likely to fall over in a match."
Teams get instructions of what the robots are supposed to be able to do. In past competitions, robots picked up plastic rings and stacked them on posts. In this competition, the goal was to lift the bean bags up into the trough.
In addition to scoops and buckets that looked like miniature backhoes, some designs relied on conveyer belts to pull up the bean bags and deposit them into a bucket that would drop them into the trough.
Matches are in three pits with two teams in each, 15 seconds for robots to be autonomous and 45 seconds of controller-operated movement.
A back room was packed with teams hovering over their creations, making adjustments and repairs, including another local team, Cobalt, made up of Sue Park, 17, of Geneva and Mia Garbaccio, 16, of Lisle, who were hustling to repair their robot for the next round.
"Something went wrong," Park said. "The bucket came undone. So we can fix it very easily and we will surely win the next match. We just have to tighten the screw."