CCA Previews ’21: Club Automatica

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By Heng Teng Yi (21S05A), Chairperson, Liao Yu (21S06S), Vice-Chairperson, and Ang Shi Xuan (21S06N), Quartermaster

Automatica? We know what you’re thinking: what CCA is that? Trust us, we were once in your shoes too. After all, it is undeniable that our CCA name does not give any details about the nature of our CCA. It’s not even an actual word. So what does it mean? To be honest, we have no idea either.

What we can tell you though is that we are a robotics club. Our interesting CCA name aside, we are a dedicated, innovative and chill CCA, committed to making our mark on the history of robotics (or so we hope).

Our Soccer and Rescue robots!

Each year, we take part in two major competitions: RoboCup and National Robotics Competition (NRC). For RoboCup, we participate in two sub-leagues: Rescue and Soccer. In Rescue and NRC, our robots run through re-created disaster scenarios completing complex missions. The robots must track a black line while overcoming various obstacles and collecting objects quickly to win. In Soccer, our robots play 2v2 soccer matches in a miniature (but still pretty big) field. There are no remote controllers; these robots track, dribble, and kick the ball all by themselves!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical RoboCup and NRC events were cancelled this year, but we have adapted well to these circumstances. In June, we took part in the International CoSpace Online Challenge and won 6 awards, including 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for Grand Prix, and 1st place for Rescue FirstSteps. Currently, we are preparing for the Virtual RoboCup Asia-Pacific competition in October.

Through these experiences, members will learn and apply valuable real-world engineering skills and technologies such as 3D printing and circuit boards to design and construct a stable and reliable robot (excluding the occasional hot glue). They will also learn to program the robot to make decisions, utilizing complex algorithms such as PID control, computer vision, and localisation.

The correct selection is all of the above. (photos taken pre-COVID)

Officially, CCA is held twice a week on Saturdays and a weekday of each team’s choice. But nearing competition dates, teams can be seen spending many more unofficial hours outside the club room huddled around their robots in a desperate effort to get them to WORK. In order to make robots that perform well in competitions, the teams work long days (and nights, because that’s how much we love our CCA). 

Needless to say, such rigorous training can be draining and arduous for anyone, especially when you are 3 days away from competing and nothing seems to work. That being said, your teammates will be there to support (or fool around with) you in these moments of despair. And the results can be rewarding; the sight of your robots finally running without any programming errors or hardware failures will warm the cockles of your heart.

Now, we hear you thinking: robotics seems so geeky and intense, is it important to have an impressive background in software and hardware design? Our answer is a resounding no. While a background in coding and robotics is encouraged, all you need to join is a passion for robotics and perseverance to overcome the numerous challenges. After all, your progress will solely depend on the amount of effort and time you put in. Our competition teams have a balanced mix of seniors and juniors, so the less experienced juniors will be guided throughout their 1.5 year CCA journey. 

In this new age of technology, robots are the new craze. If you want to be the thinkers, leaders and pioneers™ of our generation, Club Automatica is just the place for you!

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