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Franklin Robotics Team Wins Award at World Championship

Sense & Sound Robotics, a community based FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team in Franklin, competed at the FIRST World Championship in Houston April 17-20. Only 224 out of the approximately 8,000 FTC teams worldwide compete at Worlds. Sense & Sound won 8 out of their 10 qualifying matches, finishing in 5th place. The performance drives this FTC robot into the top 1% in the world. Judges also evaluate the robots from all aspects to find the best in many prestigious categories. Sense & Sound was awarded the 2nd place Control Award for software design.
“The Control Award celebrates a team that uses sensors and software to increase the robot’s functionality in the field. This award is given to the team that demonstrates innovative thinking to solve game challenges such as autonomous operation, improving mechanical systems with intelligent control, or using sensors to achieve better results,” says the FIRST organization.
Each FIRST competition season, a different challenge is presented based on a new theme. This year’s challenge was STEAM-based, called CenterStage, highlighting theater arts. The robots were designed to complete a variety of tasks including moving multi-colored 6-sided pixels, which were picked up in the wings, then delivered to a mark, backstage, and backdrop, where they were placed in patterns. Other tasks included launching a paper airplane into a designated landing zone and suspending the entire robot from rigging on the playing field. The first thirty seconds of the match is an autonomous period, where the robots are programmed to complete these tasks without driver intervention, using only previously programmed code and sensors, followed by two minutes of driver control.
Adi Sharma, Lead Programmer for the team and a Senior at Franklin High School, explains the software design that led to their Control Award, saying “we built our own original code library that allows us to define a variety of Java robot classes to control the drive, pixel intake, airplane launcher, and other mechanisms. Each of these classes have their own hardware and settings, which let us run complex, dynamic motions, such as driving to a specific position utilizing distance sensors and odometry to accurately localize position, while simultaneously running the pixel intake and checking sensors for the number of pixels held.”
“The software was also designed to control our unique pixel placement system,” says Anna David, Drive Team Coach and Lead Hardware Engineer for the team, another Franklin High School Senior. “We designed and 3-D printed a unique plunger that picks up the pixels from the intake and accurately places them on the backdrop. A variety of sensors detect the color and quantity of pixels the intake has picked up and indicate this to the drivers, as well as sense how far the robot is from the backdrop for intelligent-controlled movement and automatic, accurate placement, among other things. In total, we utilized 16 sensors and a camera in our design, and I think the judges were impressed with how they worked in concert to make our robot both accurate and consistent.” 
The team was very pleased with how well they did at Worlds. Sense & Sound is made up of 7th through 12th graders from Franklin, Medway, and Milford, and also includes Zach Beaupre, Ajay Gulati, Tanish Asu, Jaswanth Bandaru, Akash Vootla, Anjan Lakkadi, Elliott Knowlton, and Maxx Duffy. Team members built 2-3 days per week in a lab in Franklin, MA, where they were mentored by local engineers Tom Kroon, Leigh Knowlton, and Suresh Vootla. The students are responsible for all aspects of the robot design, build, and coding, including tracking their efforts in an engineering design notebook that is submitted for judging.
As a community-based team, Sense & Sound Robotics does not receive any funding from the school or town, and the team is grateful to the sponsors who helped make their bid for a world title possible, including Cold Chain Technologies, Carpe Diem Technologies, Hologic, Kumon of Franklin, MassMEP, Kelmar Associates, Nerds to Go, Blue Hills Plumbing, Representative Jeff Roy, Medway Cultural Council, Middlesex Savings Bank, The Curry House, and Combe Incorporated, as well as various private donations.
You can learn more about Sense & Sound Robotics at You can read more about FIRST Tech Challenge at