Lindbergh robot gives man its best shot
"Air Ball," created by Lindbergh High School's robotics team, lost a free-throw contest to the team's star player, Jimmy Keum — but only barely.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — Jimmy Keum stood at the free-throw line. The Lindbergh High School basketball standout was blindfolded.
He wore a New York Knicks Jeremy Lin jersey tucked into a pair of black shorts and waited to be handed a basketball.
At the other end of the floor was "Air Ball," a mix of metal, motors and plastic created by school's robotics team for one purpose — to sink shots.
Man and machine went head-to-head in the Lindbergh gym Friday afternoon with Keum edging Air Ball — once he was allowed to take off the blindfold.
"I thought it was pretty intimidating, because they had been working on it for a while," said Keum, who led the Eagles to a fifth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament last month. "It's a machine. I thought it would be automatic. I guess I won one for mankind."
No official score was kept. The robot didn't miss, but Keum made a few more shots in his allotted time.
The competition was part of a school assembly, allowing the robotics team to show off a creation the students had six weeks to build.
Matt Randall, who teaches robotics at Lindbergh, joked that he was as intimidated as Keum.
"Jimmy's been playing basketball his whole life, since he was a little kid," said Randall, in his fifth year at the school. "Our students only had six weeks to build this robot."
The 35 students who worked on Air Ball devoted as many as 30 hours a week to the project. Air Ball was entered in the FIRST Robotics Competition Seattle Olympic Regional, placing ninth of 44 entries.
"It just shows what you can do with a little bit of mind power and the will to go through with it," said Eli Tripi, a senior who is the president of robotics team.
A custom hoop was built for Air Ball. When competition started, students moved the robot by remote control, scooping up a basketball and firing it out of a chute toward the basket.
"We did really well," Tripi said. "We made the majority of shots that we tried to make, I don't actually think we missed one, so we did really well."
Air Ball cost $3,000 to build, and the students were responsible for everything from plans to parts.
"There were about five mechanisms (required to build Air Ball), so one of the big lessons I think they learned was having to communicate with each other and really make sure that all their parts would work well with the parts that the other people on their team made," Randall said. "I was really proud of them."
Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or email@example.com