Programmed for success
THE BARKER family garage is over-run by robots.
But they aren’t too worried about it – the two Barker boys are the masterminds behind the machines.
The teenagers have made some of the strongest competition robots in New Zealand and the world in that small tinkering space.
Steven, 16, and Jack, 19, say their garage is famous within the robotics community.
‘‘It’s all pretty tongue-in- cheek stuff,’’ Jack says.
‘‘It’s because all the robots that come out of there seem to be really good.’’
This year is no different with both boys picking up top awards at the Vex Robotics World Championships in the United States at the end of April.
Steven’s Lynfield College team successfully defended their High School World Champions title from last year and were crowned the Science Division Champions.
Jack competed for Auckland University and scored the World Excellence Award for the second time.
The team secured the top award by being the Robot Skills World Champions, Programming Skills World Champions and coming second in the world finals.
It is the sixth year Jack has made the trip to worlds.
‘‘Robotics has grown a lot since I started out,’’ Jack says.
When he first picked up the ‘‘hobby mixed with competitive sport’’ there were only a handful of Lynfield College kids interested.
Now more than 40 students belong to the club.
His younger brother was one of those to follow his lead.
‘‘I’ve been to worlds five times, those first ones were just to watch Jack, the last three times I have competed,’’ Steven says.
‘‘They keep having to change locations, it just gets bigger and bigger,’’ he says.
‘‘It literally takes 10 minutes to walk from one side of the competition to the other.’’
When the buzzer sounds, two teams get their robots to manoeuvre plastic cubes into stacks or on to poles.
Attempting to destroy other robots is against the rules but teams can defend and prevent the opposition from scoring points.
All teams must use VEX Robotics parts to make their creations.
Once the bot has been built it all comes down to tactics, coping with difficulties on the day and being able to dig in at the last minute, Steven says.
Brothers Jack and Steven Barker have made a name for themselves in the robotics world.