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During the Easter break, the Student Robotics team travelled to the University of Southampton to compete in the two-day Student Robotics competition. Supply chain issues meant that the robot was built only days before the trip, with limited time for testing and adjustment.

Despite this, the team’s opening rounds on Saturday were moderately successful, beginning the competition-long trend of the robot being “close to perfect in so many areas, but actually working in none”. However, the competition was experiencing similar struggles, and some inspired troubleshooting aided by an accidental major victory in match 38 saw the team reach a high of 8th place, ultimately finishing the day in 12th overall.

Upon checking in to Premier Inn™ Southampton Airport, the team set about making improvements to the robot. Some dubiously sourced aluminium strips allowed for the largest hardware update of the competition (making the robot’s oversized claw even bigger), while a significant programming improvement meant that there was cause for (cautious) optimism going into Sunday.

Day two of the Robotics competition saw the team start in something of a rut, with a string of 3rd place finishes putting pay to any hopes of a top 8 seed for the knockouts. However, match 69 saw the team’s first intentional victory of the competition, and the highlight of the competition followed soon afterwards in match 88, with a commanding win putting the team 15th overall going into the knockouts.

Unfortunately, the late comeback was not to be, with a first round elimination showing that, while very good at points, the team’s robot ultimately lacked the consistency in performance to make a deep run this year. Nonetheless, the haphazard wiring, comically menacing claw and wild unpredictability, combined with a strong team social media presence, ensured that the Eltham College robot was a favourite among competitors and spectators alike. Eltham College Robotics Team will return next year, with the foundations having been laid for greater success.

Article written by Alex (Y13)

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