This 2019 season, FIRST NC invited our team along with Team 7763, Carrborobotics (our mentee team), to attend a special Kickoff at Hangar6 sponsored by Caterpillar. At Kickoff, we were able to talk with and learn from NC FRC judges and Caterpillar while bonding with Carrborobotics more. After an hour of networking, it was finally time to reveal the 2019 game, Deep Space.

Deep Space is a game where two teams composed of three robots work to deliver disks (called “hatches”) and balls (called “cargo”) to either a cargo ship or two rockets. Unlike previous games, there is no dedicated pre-programmed autonomous period. Instead, teams may decide to let their drivers control their robots like in teleop. The catch is that the drivers’ vision will be limited due to a black screen that covers the driver station view for the first fifteen seconds of a match. This is called the “sandstorm period.” During the last thirty seconds, robots may pick one of three platform heights to climb to earn extra points. The higher the level climbed, the more points the alliance gets.

Shortly after the game reveal, we took a break for lunch and then met up at a mentor’s house to continue Kickoff in a quieter and more focused place. After gathering together at our mentor’s house, we broke up into several groups (which helps eliminate groupthink) to read the rules, discuss game strategy, and come up with a basic robot design. Once every group had a basic plan in place, we all got together and had each group present their strategy and robot design. By the end of the day, we had a basic idea of how we wanted to play the game!

Continuing our momentum from Kickoff into the start of Build Season, we spent the first week refining our game strategy and robot design. Once we had a better idea of how we wanted to play Deep Space, we started prototyping a few of our ideas. The main things we worked on testing were our cargo and disk collector and mechanism ideas for end game. So far, we have a general design for our robot and are eager to see how the rest of the season goes!

Our Business and Marketing Teams were also hard at work during Week 1. They started the process of designing new team shirts for this season. By the end of the week, they finalized a shirt design and started to draw it in Illustrator! Additionally, they began to work on the Chairman’s write-up and experimented with different ideas to replace the buttons handed out at competitions.