- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2014

BRIGHTON, Mich. (AP) - The Brighton High School robotics team doesn’t step into the spotlight often, but that’s starting to change.

The team’s Frisbee-throwing robot squared off with Zeke the Wonder Dog during a recent halftime performance at the Brighton girls varsity basketball game, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( https://bit.ly/1jXduFN ). The student-designed robot threw Frisbees that were caught by Zeke, who performs during Michigan State University games.

The robot is controlled by a joystick and computer, and it can roll as fast as someone walking quickly.

The 30-member team has also plunged into its next project, which is designing a robot that can throw exercise balls through targets.

The team - the Brighton BUGS, which stands for Brighton United Geeks - meets in a room at Brighton High School and is building the robot at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground on the Oakland-Livingston county line, where members have access to tools and supplies. The team has six weeks to complete the project before the competition.

“I say the most exciting part is getting to work with all the big tools,” co-captain Bryce Feiler said. He likes using a gravity band saw to cut metal.

“It’s really awesome,” he said.

The team was formed in 2011, making it a newcomer to the robotics competition, but the students are excited about having access to the GM Milford Proving Ground. In addition, the team now has its own room with computers and teaching screens.

Erik Disler, lead robotics coach, helped arrange for the students to have access to the proving ground; each of them is issued an identification card. Disler and Dan Delisle, assistant coach, both work at the facility.

Erik Disler said he began helping the club when it formed in 2011, but he emphasized that it’s always been run by students.

“I’m kind of a tech geek anyway,” he said. “It’s fun teaching the kids.”

He said the club has members who handle fundraising; the entry fee to the competition is $5,000.

He said each robot costs about $2,000 to $3,000 to build, which includes parts.

Drew Disler, the coach’s son and co-captain, has been on the team since he was a freshman. Now a junior, he said he joined because he had friends on the team and his father encouraged him to participate.

Drew Disler said he likes building robots, using machinery and working with circuit and wires.

“I’ve always been wanting to do stuff like that since I was little, taking stuff apart,” he said.

He said he took apart Nintendo GameCube remotes and consoles, but he hasn’t always put them back together.

“That’s the hard part,” he said.

He said the fun part is seeing how things work.

He said he was excited about driving the robot in the competition last year, and he said the team is improving.

“I think that is a big step, just being able to have resources and mentors,” Disler said.


Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, https://www.livingstondaily.com



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