Hello world. Welcome to my inaugural video
post for on10!
I was in Australia last week and decided to take a trip up to The Gold Coast
(Queensland, Australia) for some sun, sand, surf and of course, the 8th International Robotics Olympiad
Expecting to see Johnny 5
compete in the pentathlon or Alex J. Murphy
in the syncronised swimming I was pleasantly surprised to find that humans were not yet
slaves to the cyborg overlords although I was just a little disappointed in the notable absence of Optimus Prime, Megatron and Soundwave.
I was however absolutely amazed that primary school children
(that's children under 12 years of age) were building robots that could autonomously navigate through hazardous obstacle courses, climb stairs, clean rubbish from the beach and break dance. Yes ladies and gentlemen. Break dance.
Over 600 students from 15 countries around the globe attended this years conference competing in 19 different categories
ranging from exhibition and creativity to the fiercely competitive maze solving challenge.
I had wanted to interview some students competing in the maze challenge but was informed that this was not possible (at the time) as I might inadvertently provide some kind of assistance to a student which would result in their disqualification. Eek! I thought of explaining that at the age of 12 I couldn't even tie my own shoelaces and so was probably not in a position to give tips on how to code in assembly however I decided against.
A big thank you to the team from Mexico who generously spent the best part of an hour explaining and demonstrating their amazing robot (Mexexanthe) that searches the forest for fires and relays data back to a central command station. Showing great ingenuity the team built what they couldn't buy/find including controller boards and light weight construction materials which you can see in the video.
Thanks to Dr Jun Jo
from Griffith University
for his time and the IROC volunteer crew who ran the entire four day event (and became very well acquainted with light gates and their idiosyncrasies as a result).
Thanks also to David L
(who covered IRO on his blog here
and actually builds robots) and James M for being my 'ring-in' camera men. The whole "Blair Witch Project" cinematography style doesn't really work in these situations.
If you're a student and interested in the competitive and fascinating world of robotics make sure you check out the IROC web site
for more information on the next competition which is due to be held in Singapore in 2007.