Teaching robots to score goals

19:50, Jun 30 2013
robotics competition
FOCUS: Operators watch their machines intently as they compete in the VEX Robotics regionals in Christchurch at Christchurch Boys' High School.

Making robots score goals with tennis balls may not sound like the average sport of choice for a Kiwi teenager.

But a weekend of it has helped prepare more than 40 Christchurch pupils for the international playing field.

The Kiwi Challenge, a New Zealand-based robotics competition organised by Kiwibots, gives technology fans an insight into one of the world's fastest-growing competitions.

Kiwibots national manager Chris Hamling said pupils were given design instructions in March.

Hamling said the Kiwi Challenge, held at Christchurch Boys' High School, taught competitors how to work under pressure in a bid to "make international competition not seem so intimidating".

"The design requirements are a lot more restrictive than they would be for national . . . or international competitions and that in itself teaches them a lot."


And who said robotics was just for boys?

"We've had a few girls [in the Kiwi Challenge] too which is great because we're always really keen to see more girls getting involved but it's just a case of getting the word out there," he said.

Hamling said about 100 teams of intermediate and high school pupils would take part in the national championships next year before some went on to represent New Zealand at the VEX Robotics World Champions in Los Angeles.

New Zealand has won the world champs for the last five years.

"For us, it's all about inspiring passion for science and technology and helping to create a groundswell of students wanting futures in those areas."

The Press