Hello World! Chloe here, with my Geared UP! teammate Jonathan. This week well explain the most thrilling part of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge for FLL teams and spectators alike- the Robot Game. Engaging and exciting, the Robot Game involves strategy, building, and programming. Robots built with LEGO bricks compete on a game table full of missions relating to each years theme. The 2014 FLL theme, for example, "World Class Learning Unleashed", explores the future of learning. Every mission on the game table relates to this theme.
Its a PARTY!
The LEGO group builds a custom game mat for each years FLL Challenge. Teams wait patiently for their mats and mission model pieces to arrive in the mail. When the special package is delivered, its time for a PARTY! A building party is always a terrific event and a great way to kick off what will be an amazing season. Our teams building party tradition is to set up the field, build the challenge models, and then dine on pizza. We cant wait to rip open those LEGO packages, pick a model to build and then get to work. Pro-tip: Always have team members double check one-anothers work so an incorrectly built model isnt accidently placed on the game table.
At a tournament, the robot game field holds two mats and tables connected to form one table large enough to hold two competing robots (and two competing teams). Mission models are the actual objects that are placed on the field that the robot engages during the game. A mission requirement is a condition the robot produces for points. Teams choose which missions to complete. This years challenge had 15 missions on the field. There are rules that determine how missions are scored, and how many points can be scored in each mission. Often, there is a mission, such as this years Remote Communications/Learning, which extends across both mats. Thats pretty cool!
Pump up the Base!
Now that you know what FLL robots have to do to earn points, you may be wondering, How does the robot know where to go and what to do when it is on the table? Although the robot must be programmed to be autonomous, two team members - the robot operators - can touch the robot when it is in Base. The Base is a box outlined on the mat that is formed by vertical walls that rise from the perimeter of the Base area. The Base is not just a two-dimensional area on the mat, it also includes an invisible ceiling 12" (30cm) high.
In Base, teams can begin a new program, adjust the robot, or give the robot additional attachments to use as it completes new missions. If a team needs to touch the robot during the game (when the robot is not in Base), that team loses points in what is known as a touch penalty. A touch penalty will lower the teams score by 10 points, but can be used to a teams advantage. Some teams use touch penalties strategically to save time during the game.
The Mat, the Missions, and the Points:
Time is running out!
During the game, a robot has exactly 2 minutes to finish as many missions as possible. Although that may seem like too short a time to accomplish all the missions, a robot can do a lot of incredible things in 150 seconds! At the end of each match, teams receive a score based on the number of missions their robot completed. The robot that scores the most points before the buzzer sounds wins the robot game!
FLL is hard work - but is probably the hardest fun you will ever have. So join an FLL team and Support the Robolution!
Until next time,
Chloe and Jonathan
Setting up the field is a lot of fun, but it is just the beginning. There are many other things to do after the table is built. To see table set up and rules, look HERE. To see rule updates, click HERE.