Team Robo Loco Eyes the World Stage—Again

Robo Loco, the robotics team made famous last year when their hand-crafted robot was stolen ahead of the national competition, has rebooted.

The team, made up of students from Loudoun’s Academy of Science and C.S. Monroe Technology Center, competed in the district FIRST Robotics Competition Saturday, and came out as finalists, according to a post on the team’s Twitter page.

“Great competition!,” the team posted, followed by the hashtag #roboswag.

In the six weeks leading up to the regional contest, the team built and programmed a robot that could perform various tasks based on the contest’s challenge, which had a medieval theme. The robot had to navigate “moats” and “drawbridges” to capture a castle.

Robo Loco went on to compete in the FIRST World Championships last April in St. Louis after its first robot, the Red Barron, was stolen three weeks earlier following the FIRST Robotics Smoky Mountains Regional in Knoxville, TN. The Loudoun Education Foundation raised more than $15,000 to get Robo Loco and its second-string robot to the World Championships.

Academy of Science teacher Michael Tomlinson, who coaches the team with Monroe teacher Richard Sarr, stated in a press release from Loudoun County Public Schools that, ultimately, the incident had a positive effect on the team. “A lot of the kids from AOS and Monroe already knew about our team. We did a better job recruiting, but we didn’t have to explain what we did or who we were,” he said.

Eight members from last year’s team serve on this year’s Robo Loco leadership team. They’ve combined with newcomers to form a strong roster. “We have a lot of new recruits; a lot of new recruits who are showing up on a regular basis – really adding to the team,” Tomlinson stated. “It’s been really nice, actually.”

Robo Loco intends to enter three competitions ahead of making another run at the World Championships, April 27-30 in St. Louis.

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