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Cyber Tribe 4020 again wins robotic alliance at Myrtle Beach, headed to Texas in April

Karen Maness and David Hrivnak • Mar 3, 2020 at 11:45 AM

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Dobyns-Bennett High School’s Cyber Tribe robotics team has won a three-team first place for the second year in a row at Myrtle Beach, this time cinching the win on Feb. 29. Cyber Tribe partnered with teams from New York and South Carolina for the win and also got an individual team award.

Cyber Tribe, also known as Team 4020 in the world of FIRST — or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics, was one of three teams in the winning alliance at the 17th annual Palmetto Regional Competition held Feb. 26-29 in Myrtle Beach. Its robot for the team’s ninth year was CHANKA.

This competition featured 64 teams from eight states: New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina. The captain of the winning alliance was Team 694 StuyPulse from Stuyvesant High School in New York, New York. In addition to Cyber Tribe, the other winning alliance team member was Team 1758 Technomancers from Florence, South Carolina. As winners of a regional competition, all three of the teams qualified to attend the FIRST Championship in Houston from April 15-18.

WHAT IS FINANCIAL SUPPORT?

Cyber Tribe is sustainable thanks to support from the following sponsors: D-B, STREAMWORKS, Eastman Foundation, Rockwell Automation, Eastman Credit Union, Appalachian Power, BAE Systems, Kiwanis Club of Kingsport, Energy Systems Group, Tri-Cities Extrusion, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Milligan College, Citizens Bank, Bank of Tennessee, Ballad Health, Fastenal, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Lowe’s, Edward Jones, U.S. Air Force, Acme Printing, Chef’s Pizza and several individuals. 

HOW’S THE COMPETITION WORK?

The 2020 Palmetto Regional Competition began with 95 qualification matches in which alliances of three teams were randomly assigned to compete against each other. The alliance groupings changed for every qualifying match, so each team played with and against many other teams during qualifications. David Hrivnak and Karen Manness are Team 4020 mentors.

After the qualification matches, Cyber Tribe was ranked fourth of the 64 teams attending. At the end of the qualification period, the top-ranked teams form alliances with other teams to compete in the playoffs. The top-ranked team, StuyPulse, selected Cyber Tribe as its first pick. Together, these two teams chose Technomancers to complete their playoff alliance. The eight alliances in the playoff bracket competed to determine the overall winner of the event.

FIRST is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to promote youth STEM  — or science, technology, engineering and math education — through mentor-based competitive robotics challenges. Early each January, FIRST teams are presented with a set of tasks that their robots must perform to play a 2.5-minute game in a “3-on-3” format in competitions occurring in late February through mid-April.

In the 2020 FIRST “Infinite Recharge,” each alliance of three robots must shoot balls into several ports to score points and advance the game. At certain stages of the game, the robots can rotate a color wheel a specified number of times and use cameras and vision processing to stop the wheel on a specified color that changes each game.

WHAT IS AUTONOMOUS AWARD?

In the final 30 seconds of the game, the robots on each alliance seek to lift themselves onto a swinging bar and get extra points — if they can work together to maintain the bar within 8 degrees of level. Since the robots have never practiced together before the competition, they must quickly learn to play as a cohesive group. The first 15 seconds of each game is referred to as the “autonomous period,” during which the robot drivers cannot touch the controls and the robots must “self drive” to score as many points as possible based solely on cameras, vision processing and programming algorithms.

Because of Cyber Tribe’s performance during this portion of the game, it won the Ford Autonomous Award at the Palmetto Regional in addition to being a member of the winning alliance.

HOW DID TEAM PREPARE/WHAT’S NEXT?

Cyber Tribe constructed a practice field at the STREAMWORKS Education facility at 200 Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport. Each year, student team members, mentors and parents construct a practice field that the team uses to refine its robot’s design and functioning and to allow the drivers to practice prior to competing. This practice field is available to other area FRC teams to use for practice as well. Contact Cyber Tribe at [email protected] for more information.

Over nine years,100 percent of Cyber Tribe student alumni have pursued two- or four-year degree programs after high school. Cyber Tribe’s next competition will be the 2020 Rocket City Regional in Huntsville, Alabama, from April 1-4, followed almost immediately by the Houston Championship April 15-18. The team will be seeking to raise funds quickly to defray travel expenses for the Houston competition.

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