Inaugural robotics competition held

2016-11-02 06:00
PHOTO: supplied Closely watching the progress of their robot (from left) Justin Wilde, Kent Combrink (spectator) and Callum Ross of St Charles College.

PHOTO: supplied Closely watching the progress of their robot (from left) Justin Wilde, Kent Combrink (spectator) and Callum Ross of St Charles College.

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THE Coach House of St Charles College was abuzz recently with 60 pupils, teachers and spectators for the inaugural Midlands Robotics Competition.

With the invitation extended to various high schools in the Midlands, Maritzburg College, Girl’s High, Treverton and St Charles College accepted the challenge and fielded a total of seven robots.

St Charles College pupils Joel Philpott and Cullen Stewart-Burger designed and planned the competition. They secured sponsorship from Reutech Communications and Velos Electronic Engineering, to purchase the kits to be used for building the robots. These were handed over to participating schools at a workshop that took place a month before the competition. At the workshop pupils were shown how each component functions and had an opportunity to ask questions about the competition.

The competition was divided into four components with three judges allocating scores for each.

The first was an inspection of each robot to ensure that it met the required specifications. In the ping pong ball challenge the robots were placed in a walled cage and given two minutes to remove 10 ping pong balls. One point was awarded per ping pong ball removed.

In the rough terrain race, times were taken for the robots as they travelled around a course with 10 points being awarded to first place and less for each subsequent position.

Finally, a mystery sensor (a pair of light detecting components) was handed to the teams on the night, who were given two hours to familiarise themselves with the sensor, incorporate it into the robot, and complete a task using it. This meant programming the robots to follow a LED strip placed on the ground by calculating the light levels in each sensor.

The GHS robot was first in the ping pong challenge, managing to remove four balls. The fastest robot around the track was Treverton’s second team.

None of the teams completed the mystery challenge although the St Charles College team came close. In the end GHS walked away with the title, Treverton came second and Maritzburg College third.

Given the growing energy and enthusiasm around robotics among pupils in the Midlands, it is assured the Midlands Robotics Competition will be an annual event.

It is envisaged that this will be rotated between participating schools with the host for 2017 still to be decided. For more information, contact midlandsrobotics@gmail.com - Supplied.

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