What does it take to shepherd an industrial-size robot from concept to fully functioning, competitive machine in just eight weeks? CNET checked in with Highlander Robotics, a team of young roboticists from Northern California vying against thousands of other global teams for a spot in April’s highly competitive FIRST robotics championship in Houston.
FIRST, a nonprofit promoting science, engineering and technology education, sponsors the annual competition, which draws innovators between 14 and 18. This season, they hail from more than 30 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, India, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Turkey and the US. Engineer, inventor and prolific patent holder Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to encourage young people’s interest and participation in STEM.
Here’s Highlander Robotics mechanical lead Vaughn Khouri, about a month before Highlander Robotics’ first tournament of the season, assessing the robot’s subsystem in the lab at Piedmont High School east of San Francisco, where he’s a sophomore.
The mechanical team spent January divided into sub-groups, each focused on a specific robot part, such as its elevator, arm or electrical system. February was all about constructing and testing their mechanism, then iterating on their design.