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Annapolis Royal’s robotics team takes first and second place trophies at world championships

Abigail Bonnington, Griffin Batt, and Finn Hafting show off the first- and second-place trophies they brought back from world robotics competition in Detroit. The world event took place May 17-19 at Lawrence Tech. When the Annapolis West Education Centre students arrived home, May 22 was proclaimed Royal Robots Day in Annapolis Royal by town council.
Abigail Bonnington, Griffin Batt, and Finn Hafting show off the first- and second-place trophies they brought back from world robotics competition in Detroit. The world event took place May 17-19 at Lawrence Tech. When the Annapolis West Education Centre students arrived home, May 22 was proclaimed Royal Robots Day in Annapolis Royal by town council. - Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - They’re still in high school but all three are already world champions.

They’re members of the senior Royal Robots team from Annapolis West Education Centre and have spent years writing code, building robots, and winning just about every competition they’ve entered.

Meet Abigail Bonnington, Finn Hafting, and Griffin Batt.

Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald declared a day in their honour after the trio came back from Detroit where they won a first-place trophy in one event and second place in another event.

They’re the best in the world.

The AWEC team took part in the May 17-19 competition at Lawrence Tech in Detroit after qualifying at a provincial competition at Acadia University.

“These guys competed in three different events – I think there’s eight events that they have there – and these guys did Classic Sumo, Unknown Mission Challenge, and Game,” said coach Jeff Hafting.

While they didn’t make it to the finals of Classic Sumo, where you have to knock your opponent off the table, they excelled at the other two.

“The first one they did was the Unknown Mission Challenge,” said Hafting. “They’re given two hours to complete an unknown mission from a completely unassembled robot kit. This year they had a table set up where they had ping pong balls and they could drive from one side of the table, over to the other side and put a ping pong ball in a box and then come back – and they couldn’t touch it until it came back – and then they’d load another one. How many can you do in two minutes?”

They had their robot built in 40 minutes and were able to spend time programming and working out all the bugs. And they used sensor strips on the table to direct the robot, something not many other teams did.

In Game, they had to collect tennis balls on a table and using an internal conveyor belt move the balls to the top of the machine. The catch was that there were plastic water bottles on the table as well. Most robots couldn’t tell the difference and tried to scoop up the bottles as well as the tennis balls – which wasn’t possible and cost teams a lot of time. The Royal Robots programmed their robot to simply knock the bottles over and push them off the table.

Griffin and Finn are both in Grade 11 and have been Royal Robots members since Grade 6. Abigail, in Grade 12, is in her fourth and final year with the team. All three have been members of the Annapolis Royal Space Agency as well, and all three plan to become engineers.

While the all write code for the robots they create, Abigail was given the task during the Unknown Mission Challenge and according to her teammates she was busy coding as the challenge was being explained.

Finn and Griffin manipulated the robot making sure it was in exactly the right spot every time it returned from depositing a ping pong ball.

The Royal Robots were also asked to help out another team that couldn’t get their robot to work, something they didn’t hesitate to do.

When the trio got back from world competition, Annapolis Royal Town Council not only issued them with certificates of recognition, it proclaimed May 22, 2018 as Royal Robots Day in the Town of Annapolis Royal.

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