REGION — On January 5 the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) game Destination: Deep Space was revealed.

Members of Mt. Blue High School’s team, the Blue Crew, watched the reveal from advisor’s Richard Wilde’s room. After the reveal, they began brainstorming on what features their robot should have.

FRC is an international high school robotics program. After the reveal, teams have six weeks to design, build and program a robot capable of completing various game missions.

This year two competing alliances are on the distant planet Primus. Remote robot operation is essential to their mission of collecting samples on the planet because of the terrain and weather patterns. The alliances must gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare their spaceships before the next sandstorm arrives.

Each alliance has two rockets, a cargo ship and a habitat area. Points are scored by attaching hatches to the rockets and cargo ship so that cargo pods can be loaded on them. Returning to the habitat before the end of the match will also earn points. The winner is the alliance with the most points at the end of a match.

A new twist has been added to the game this year. During the first 15 seconds, teams may program their robot to function autonomously or rely on an onboard vision system to direct their robot.

FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen with assistance from physicist and MIT professor emeritus Woody Flowers.

During the reveal, Kamen said, “This year’s theme came from a conversation with Buzz Aldrin. Putting a man on the moon motivated a generation. The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is this year. You can bring the world to a place your grandparents couldn’t have imagined.

“Unlike some sports, every kid on this team can turn professional to become scientists and engineers. I’m here to motivate you over the next decade to cure cancer, provide clean water and make the world a better place by inspiring kids to find the right way to solve critical problems and deploy technology responsibly.”

Flowers said, “Deep space is going to be a wild ride. It will involve intense fun, joy, happiness, satisfaction and meaningful life. All done in the spirit of gracious professionalism that will lead to increased self-esteem.”

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