Battle Bots: Robotics team competes in first meet, reflects on first semester

Alejandra+Cortes+%2824%29%2C+Lily+Dembo+%2824%29%2C+Shayaan+Gandhi+%2825%29+and+Chloe+Hayden+%2824%29%2C+all+members+of+Archer%E2%80%99s+robotics+team%2C+The+Muses%2C+work+on+their+robot+at+their+first+competition.+The+meet+was+held+on+Sunday%2C+Nov.+21+at+the+YULA+Boys+High+School.

Photo credit: Chloe Hayden

Alejandra Cortes (’24), Lily Dembo (’24), Shayaan Gandhi (’25) and Chloe Hayden (’24), all members of Archer’s robotics team, The Muses, work on their robot at their first competition. The meet was held on Sunday, Nov. 21 at the YULA Boys High School.

By Cadence Callahan, Voices Editor

Archer’s robotics team, The Muses, have been constructing their robot since September. On Sunday, Nov. 21, the team was able to showcase their work and competed in their first match of the year. The competition was held at the YULA Boys High School in Los Angeles, CA.

At the meet, teams’ robots competed in challenges and obstacle courses. The competition was meet zero, which meant the teams didn’t receive any bonus points if their robot performed well, and also didn’t lose points if their robot faced unexpected challenges, or malfunctions. 

“It was mainly for practice – getting to know the flow of the game – and seeing how we’ll do in our first competition,” sophomore Danika Jhawar said.

The yearlong challenge is called “Freight Frenzy,” and it is a bonanza where the team’s robot has to grab various balls and cubes and put them in the right containers. The teams will work throughout the year to improve their robot and compete in the same challenge at every meet.

Each team has a designated parking space, height and width limitations in addition to a “driver-free” segment where the robot must operate on its own, and roam around for a limited amount of time. After this introductory meet, the team will compete every other Sunday completing the same tasks for the rest of the school year. Teams are allowed to make adjustments to their robot during the competition and can work on it during the time in between meets.

According to sophomore Chloe Hayden, the team has faced challenges while building the robot, which resulted in the robot having to be disassembled and reassembled numerous times. 

“We had to figure out how to get the robot over these pulls, and we had to redesign our whole robot several different times,” Hayden said. “We had problems because the robot is controlled through batteries and connects to a phone via bluetooth, and for a long time the robot wasn’t connecting to the phone properly. We had to figure out how to make the robot fit in the specific parameters and faced some other challenges with coding.”

Hayden joined the Robotics team last year during her freshman year. Due to COVID-19, the team wasn’t able to compete in competitions and worked on certain aspects of the robot virtually. Hayden said this year has “felt like [her] first official year on the team.”

I really like being able to create something, be proud of it, and tell people that you made that. I’m really excited to tell people that I built that robot.”

— Chloe Hayden' 24

“It was really difficult to build [the robot] away and in people’s homes. Last year when I joined, it wasn’t really the experience I had hoped for. I was really hoping this year would be, and so far it has been,” Hayden said. “I’ve learned more in less than a semester than I did all of last year because we’re more hands-on and together.”

During the competition, each team was paired with another school and worked together to face off against two other teams. Archer was paired with and competed against various schools such as Bishop Montgomery High School, Oak View School and Milken Community School

The Muses were the only all-girls team at the meet. According to senior robotics team leader Katie Lee, there were approximately eight schools competing in total, all of which consisted of schools in the LA district.

“It’s kind of like a NASCAR event where we go into competition, our robot breaks and then we fix it,” Lee said. “We get to see other teams and look at their robot and maybe derive some of their patterns and techniques.”

Jhawar joined the team this year and has enjoyed constructing the robot thus far.

“I joined robotics because I’ve always found it interesting,” Jhawar said. “I haven’t had the time in the past to do it, but this year I allocated some time to try something new.” 

This will be Lee’s final year on the robotics team, which she’s been a part of for three years. Lee said this is a bittersweet moment, but she is excited to try new things once she graduates. 

“I’m excited to move on,” Lee said. “This year is sort of a culmination of all that I’ve learned these past three years and teaching others on the team what I’ve learned.”