Team CHAOS makes a robotic return

Published 12:48 am Sunday, January 7, 2007

Team CHAOS had a successful competition year last year making it all the way to nationals but fell slightly short of glory, this year they have some new faces who may bring some fresh ideas.

Last year’s robot had to deal with shooting balls into a goal on ground level but this year various rings will need to be placed on a rack to score points. This new approach will give the team a new set of problems to tackle.

Team CHAOS member Simon Morris said they are ready to handle the challenge.

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Each of the thousands of teams nation wide received their kits to build their robots and their objectives. Those teams will have six weeks to build those robots and ship them off to the For Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition, said Katie Wallace, FIRST Coordinator and NASA Engineer. The aim of the program is to show students there are other avenues of employment than traditionally known.

“We want to develop our workforce to go back to the moon, Mars and beyond,” Wallace said.

At the Stennis event high school students from MIssissippi, Louisiana and Tennessee were represented, Wallace said.

Each team will have a teacher, four or five mentors, which help with the building and programming process of the robots, and of course the students.

The team plans to use the same mentors as last year and possibly a new one from NASA, Team CHAOS teacher Maureen Pollitz said.

To help fund the teams participating in the FIRST competition NASA has given $284,000 in grant money to the various schools in Mississippi and Louisiana. Pollitz said so far their team has received about $16,000 in aid from NASA and Stennis and about $950 in private donations. The team could use about $5,000 more in donations to help pay for the travel and other expenses associated with the competition, Pollitz said. Wallace said a team needs at least $20,000 to be successful in competition.

Anyone interested in donating can contact Pollitz at Nicholson Elementary, she said.

“We need all the help we can get,” Morris said.

FIRST founder Dean Kamen said during the satellite feed of the kickoff that the robotics competition could be likely to grow to the new sporting sensation.

“One day we will be the twenty first century sport,” Kamen said.

Dave Lavery with NASA solar system exploration said the building of the robots will use about 4.2 million brain hours.

“Not a single one will be wasted on what… Paris Hilton is doing right now,” Lavery said.

This year’s competition will put more focus on using the vision systems of the robots, according to the kickoff video. The game will be called Rack and Roll and utilize the robots to place inflatable hoops on the rack to form vertical or horizontal rows for points. Bonus points can be gained by elevating the robots in tier home field sections at the end of the game. Higher elevations make for higher points.

New rules also state, with the use of a USB adapter, a standard game controller can be used to control the robot. CHAOS team member Don Pollitz said he is considering implementing the new hardware into the team’s arsenal.