"Hank the Tank" part 2 - Shorewood Team Pronto plays robot basketball

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Seattle Regional Robotic Competition has come and gone in a flash and Team Pronto's" Hank the Tank" competed strongly the whole time. Hank and Team Pronto were in the battle from Thursday to Saturday with hardly a time to catch our breaths or charge Hank's batteries.

Team Pronto had to get Hank up and running and through tech inspection on Thursday. Then Friday all day and Saturday up until noontime was filled with competition rounds. Hank battled 13 times. Sometimes only minutes after leaving the field, the kids and Hank had to be ready to return for another round.

The 40 members of the Shorewood Team Pronto pose with Hank

The robots played 3 on 3 basketball on a full size court. In the first 30 seconds of the event the robot has a preprogramed play time where it may move and shoot baskets. Then the students take over the controls, battling for control of basketballs and taking shots that any NBA or MIT would be proud of.

In the last 30 seconds of each round the robots have to balance cooperatively on a teeter totter with robots from other teams, while students take full court shots at the basket over the teeter totters. It was truly a balancing act.

Imagine that one wrong move will send a robot worth thousands of dollars tumbling off the teeter totter to the hard floor some 2 feet below. With the robots weighing up to 160 pounds those drops to the floor can create damage that will remove a robot from any further competitions.

Luckily Hank never had to endure the drop to the floor. In fact at one point Hank saved another robot from hitting the floor. When a teammate's robot was driven off the end of the teeter totter, Hank came into action. Our driver, Nick Teeters (his real name), saw the robot falling and got between it and the teeter totter to hold up the falling robot. The crowd of thousands gave a round of cheers to our driver and Hank for his fast thinking and great work.

Hank was ranked at high as number 1 and as low as 39, but in the end we came out with 23rd place out of 50. This ranking was not enough to get us to the championship rounds but that is not the only point of competing in robotics.

The students have poured their hearts and souls into Hank. To see how the students have grown makes all the mentors and advisors so proud. Teams from Turkey, Mexico and all over the US were competing in Seattle. Team Members have made many new friends at the event and look forward to keeping in contact in the off season.

Hank and Team Pronto will get another chance to compete to go to the World Championships. Some members of Team Pronto will be traveling April 4th to compete in the first ever Spokane Robotics Competition at Eastern Washington University in Cheney WA. Hank is getting some well deserved rest and Team Pronto members are having debriefings to see what can be done to improve on Hank's play and our overall team.


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