World stu­dents face off in robot games in In­dia

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Whizzing around a green felt ta­ble chas­ing a soc­cer ball beam­ing in­frared light, the boxy robot shoots - and scores and wins its Tai­wanese teenage cre­ators first prize at this year’s stu­dent robot games. The two bread­box-sized scoot­ers, play­ing goalie and kicker, from the team called “Wings of Storm” were up against an­other Tai­wanese team’s ro­bots in the “Foot­ball” cat­e­gory of the World Robot Olympiad held over the week­end in the In­dian cap­i­tal of New Delhi.

“We have been prac­tic­ing since pri­mary school,” said Liaw Jia-wun, 15, thrilled to have won with his team­mate. “We never in our lives could think that we would win the world cham­pi­onship.” Other cat­e­gories at the ro­bot­ics cham­pi­onships - at­tended by more than 450 teams from 50 coun­tries - asked par­tic­i­pants to cre­ate ro­bot­ics so­lu­tions to re­duce or re­cy­cle waste, lead­ing teams to build ro­bots that emp­tied trash bins or scooped up build­ing de­bris for fu­ture use. Some par­tic­i­pants were as young as 6 years old, while oth­ers were ap­proach­ing univer­sity grad­u­a­tion.

In the more ad­vanced ro­bot­ics cat­e­gory, ro­bots had to be pre­pro­grammed for the au­to­mated chal­lenge of pick­ing up mini bowl­ing balls and knock­ing down pins. That meant the ro­bots had to sense where the tar­get was and hit it with­out any in­ter­ven­tion from their cre­ators. The idea is to teach stu­dents com­puter pro­gram­ming as ro­bot­ics moves be­yond fac­tory ap­pli­ca­tions to ev­ery­day func­tions, said en­gi­neer Do­minic Bruneau, the head coach for the Cana­dian teams.

“More and more, we will be in­ter­act­ing with ro­bots” in our daily lives, Bruneau said. The stu­dent en­gi­neers are not just work­ing on the­ory but are “do­ing prac­ti­cal work of build­ing real stuff and try­ing to solve prob­lems.” South African teacher and coach Nicky Du Plessis said the games helped kids de­velop key skills. “We start with the fun­da­men­tals. We be­lieve that if kids can start from a very young age ... it teaches them how to build,” she said. “Then it teaches them log­i­cal think­ing. How to change some­thing quickly.”— AP

NEW DELHI: A par­tic­i­pant from Greece gets his robot ready for a game of soc­cer at the World Robot Olympiad in New Delhi, In­dia. The week­end games brought more than 450 teams of stu­dents from 50 coun­tries to the In­dian cap­i­tal. — AP

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