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The rise of the machine at EDSS

The EDSS team emerged victorious over the weekend at this year’s Waterloo First Robotics Competition, heading off to North Bay next. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The EDSS robotics team led the pack at this year’s First Robotics Competition in Waterloo last weekend, taking out the former longtime champs and priming themselves for a spot in the provincials in April.

With the win, the relatively young Elmira team has the distinction of unseating Team 2056 from Stoney Creek, which has won eight of the previous 10 games in Waterloo.

“A lot of students – well students and coaches – are sort of still in shock,” said Barbara Gaudet, a team coach and science teacher at EDSS. “Because we did not expect to be able to beat Team 2056.”

The team’s creation, Green Bull, had to perform a series of complicated tasks at the University of Waterloo competition, that saw it moving and arranging boxes, activating switches and a final climb that had it lift its 120-pound body 12-inches off the ground. The competition also included an “autonomous period,” where the robot had to rely completely on its own internal programming, bringing the programmers’ talents at EDSS to the forefront.

The EDSS team went undefeated at the finals in Waterloo. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]
The Elmira team has one more competition in North Bay coming up, but heading into that, the team’s score was already well above the cut-off used last year to qualify in the provincials, placing them in an excellent spot.

All of this couldn’t have been possible without the help of a large number of coaches, mentors and volunteers, as well as the sponsors who fund the team, says Gaudet. And then, of course, the students themselves.

“With the students [it’s] their dedication. The hours and hours they spend building, programming, designing, practicing, fundraising, doing the business plan – there are all sorts of facets to it.”

The Ontario First Robotics tournament is taking place at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga from April 12-14. If EDSS does well there, the next step will be to move on to the world-level First Championship in Detroit.

“We’re very excited. We are thrilled that things came together,” said Gaudet.

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