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Kinetic Knights ready to take on FIRST Medieval Stronghold challenge

By: Liz Dadson
January 11, 2016

The Kinetic Knights Robotics Team 781 is ready to throw down the gauntlet and defend the castle in the Stronghold challenge, presented by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), during the kick-off, Saturday morning at the Lake Huron Learning Centre.

Team members and mentors gathered to watch the live presentation of this year's game which has an intriguing Medieval flair.

In Stronghold, robots throw boulders at the opposing team's castle, trying to capture it, while defending their own castle. The robots have to breach eight different defences, such as walls of different heights, bridges, and uneven ground, in order to get to the other side and take the opponent's castle. At the end of each match, the robots can earn more points by scaling the castle wall.

The FIRST Stronghold challenge; video courtesy of FIRST

The Kinetic Knights agreed this is an awesome game, and with their team name, they are perfectly poised to capitalize on the Medieval theme.

Build captain Chris Pierce is looking forward to the season.

"This is a more complex game than we've had before," he said, "and the field is a lot more difficult than we've had in previous games. It'll be a fun game to play and great to watch. I'm excited to see what other teams come up with."

He said the development of this year's robot will require some real strategy, given the various defences and the end game. "I expect we'll see a lot of different-looking robots this year. We have to take the time to consider what barriers we want to tackle and prioritize them, and what we want our robot to look like."

Administrative captain Lana Splettstoesser said it's an exciting game, and agreed that strategy will be key.

"There's a lot going on so the matches will be exciting to watch, for the people in the stands and those on the field," she said.

While the build team concentrates on the robot and the field, the administrative team works on applying for various awards, developing the chairman's award video and presentation, drawing up a business plan, etc.

"We're definitely going to capitalize on the Kinetic Knights team name," said Splettstoesser. "We're going to have a suit of armour and a sword and shield. And we have to design a team standard."

During the FIRST presentation, founder Dean Kamen stressed how important it is for youth to not only learn the theory behind science and technology, but to actually do the hands-on designing and building to totally understand why and how things work.

"This is going to be the first generation to develop such advanced systems, that they'll make their own technology obsolete in their lifetime," he said. "Keep learning; don't get stuck in today's technology."

Following the presentation, Team 781 opened and checked through the kick-off kit and began brainstorming. The team has six weeks to design and build the robot, create a field and test its robot, and build a back-up robot. Regionals begin in March, with the world championships in April.


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