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Zebrotics Takes On WAPUR

Wilson Zheng

This year with new team members and renewed motivation, Zebrotics stepped into the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) warehouse ready to take part in the competition.

For many years now, AADL has been running Washtenaw Area Pick-Up Robotics (WAPUR), a yearly one-day robotics event for nearby high school teams participating in the First Robotics Competition. The event features a point-based ranking system where the top four teams become alliance captains to choose teammates at the playoffs. 

This year’s game featured a rather simple task of loading a crate filled with books onto a large bookshelf in the middle of the field. The higher the level, the more points earned. In addition, a bonus yoga ball could be passed through the gap in the middle of the two bookshelves for even more points. There were two teams each having two robots, with whoever having the most points winning the match.

Wilson Zheng

The Zebrotics robot was made for the simple task of raising the crates onto the bookshelves with a simple elevator system that lifted an extendable bar used to poke through the handles of the crates which allowed them to move them up and down.

Soon after entering the warehouse, practice matches started. This time allowed teams to scout others, looking for potential alliance partners. But most important of all, this was a time to test and drive the robot.

“Our main goal was to give all the new members and everyone that wanted a chance to drive the robot,” said team member Dom Nazario.

The testing for basic robot functions was successful, with the robot’s code functioning and being able to move. However, when they moved on to scoring points, there was another problem: the crates were sliding off of the bar, thus not being able to score. 

But, one person would not let that slide. Elon Shaffer-Green, a sophomore and two-year team member, had a revelation. 

“It was a spur-of-a-moment thing,” Shaffer-Green said. “I thought, why don’t we just put something there to prevent it from falling? It was simple.”

“It was a spur-of-a-moment thing. I thought, why don’t we just put something there to prevent it from falling? It was simple.”

— Elon Shaffer-Green

With small pieces of scrap wood, he with the help of others taped the wood onto the ends of the bar, acting as a stopper for the crates. They had to test, though, raising the elevation of the stopper every game to find the adequate height to make sure the crates wouldn’t get caught.

The ranking matches passed with many mishaps, with sometimes the code malfunctioning or even robot parts breaking from damage. Despite all of this, the team proceeded on match after match, eventually placing fourth out of twelve, securing their spot as an alliance captain.

“We killed it,” Nazario said. “Even though our robot wasn’t the greatest and we didn’t have many members, we still killed it.”

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About the Contributor
Wilson Zheng
Wilson Zheng, Journalist
Wilson is a sophomore and entering his second semester on staff. When he's not at school doing work in the library, you can find him playing video games and melodies on his piano. Wilson is looking forward to advancing as both a writer and photographer this year.

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