Roboticists pool talents
Richmond was the scene of an underwater robot battle when the NZAquaBots Challenge hit the ASB Aquatic Centre last Sunday.
Nine teams representing about 50 students from Garin College, Motueka High School, Nelson College and Nelson College for Girls spent months constructing pipe-based ‘‘AquaBots’’ out of kits imported from the United States before pitting their creations against one another.
During the competition, robots completed an underwater obstacle course and raced to salvage diving rings from the bottom of the pool and carry them back to a basket.
The students also had to give a presentation about their robot and its skills.
American-born NZAquaBots director and Garin College physics teacher Jay Inman started the programme after being involved with a US version
Garin College’s ‘‘Team Nautilus’’ prepares for the salvage race during the first NZAquaBots Challenge Competition at the ASB Aquatic Centre on Sunday. From left are Finlay Langelaan, 14, Molly Inman, 14, Harry Woodyear-Smith, 15, and Julia Froeling, 14. named Sea Perch.
He said the robots were highly customisable, saying one Nelson College for Girls team gave their robot forks for arms. The way different teams placed their robot’s motors also made a difference to speed and mobility.
‘‘Some of them had glitches and some got tangled up with each other while they were doing the course, but we didn’t have any catastrophic failures,’’ he said.
‘‘All of the aquabots functioned really well.’’
Eight judges from the Cawthron Institute, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, the New Zealand Navy and others chose Garin College’s Team Nautilus as the winner.
The team will have the option of taking part in Sea Perch’s competition in the US next May.
Jay said that if they were able to afford the trip, Team Nautilus would be the only group from outside the US competing.
‘‘We’ll do everything from sausage sizzles to approaching companies and benefactors who might want to see a New Zealand team succeed over in America.
‘‘It’s an America’s Cup for underwater robotics.’’