Robots battle it out at Okanagan College

The college's Kelowna campus hosted the 11th annual RoboCup Western Canada competition Wednesday.

Rose Valley Elementary students (left to right) Lukas Costa



Ask a teacher about robotics classes in local schools and he or she will tell you how they not only teach kids about technology, science, team-work, problem-solving and self-starting, they also provide hands-on learning that can means so much more than theoretical learning alone.

But ask one of the kids who competed at this year’s 11th annual RoboCup Western Canada event on Wednesday at Okanagan College, and he or she will tell you it’s just fun.

There was a lot of fun being had at the college Wednesday as 140 kids aged 19 and younger, on 52 teams, participated in a number of RoboCup events, pitting their technological creations against one another.

The event saw small robots, built and programmed by the students themselves, compete in soccer, search and rescue and dance.

“The aim for us is really to instill a love for science and technology in the students,” said Nadir Ouldkhessal, organizer of the event and the chairman of the electronic engineering department at the college. He is also a national representative for RoboCup Junior Canada.

He said in 2006, the event started at the college with just nine teams and now attracts students from across B.C. and Western Canada, as well as Ontario. This year, a team from Aurora, Ontario was their practice its skills for the Eastern Canada event to be held later.

The winners of both the Western and Eastern competitions have the opportunity to represent Canada an international event, to be held this year in Nagoya, Japan.

The robots, more like little boxy machines on wheels than your typical human-form robot with arms and legs, were built and programmed by the students themselves and once on the field of play at the RoboCup event, were on their own.

“What you see here is the robots working independently,” said Ouldkhessal. “They are not being operated remotely by the students. (The students) programmed them to work.”“

Using sensors, and in the case of soccer, a special ball emitting an infrared light, the machines played on a small pitch against each other trying to score into goals painted different colours so they could be to be recognized and differentiated by the robots.


In the search and rescue competition, the robots had to traverse a two-level space representing a three-room collapsed structure, climb over debris and rescue a person represented by a small can. The dance competition pitted programmed robots dancing to pre-selected music.

For Sophia Clancy, a Grade 6 Rose Valley Elementary student, who along with her teammates Taytym Roffey and Livia Utigard, created a robot with black shaggy woolen hair named Jimmy, for the dance competition, engineering has been something she’s been interested in for a while after helping a friend’s dad who is an engineer at his workplace. Her two teammates said they both would like to study technology, particularly robotics, and one day teach it.

Over at the soccer fields, three of their Male classmates, Lukas Costa, Donovan Thomas and Kai Hatley-Wayland were trying some last-minute tweaks to compensate for a sub-par performance by the sensor in their robot.

“It’s a little too high off the ground,” said Lukas, as the three scurried away to try and adjust the programming.

Jim Bradshaw, their teacher said as word spreads about the robotics program, more and more students want to get involved. And it’s like that at other schools in the district too.

That popularity is replicated across SD23, said retired computer science teacher Murray Chalmers, who now works for the district under contract and helps students with the programming of their robots, said the SD23 has its own version of the RoboCup, the SumoCup, where robotic sumo wrestlers, build and programmed by students, fight each other.

This year saw the second annual SumoCup event, which attracted 30 schools from the district. The next one is slated for February

Results of the RoboCup event were to be posted on the Okanagan College website Wednesday afternoon following the competition.

 

Just Posted

Share-a-Smile Telethon ends with over $63,000 raised.

The fundraising event saw a wide variety of performers and a packed audience for the five hour drive

Vees take 4-1 victory over Grizzlies

Shorthanded on defence, the team was able to pull off the win

Penny has been found!

Carolyn Hawkins located the missing pooch in the Uplands Court area of Penticton

KVR Middle School teams claim Okanagan Volleyball Championships

The Grade 8 teams defeated Oliver and Summerland to bring home the win

Don’t miss the SS Sicamous Christmas Market this weekend

The event features 40 local vendors and runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Crash closes Highway 33 south of Kelowna

Estimated time of re-opening is 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

South region forestry workers nearly in legal strike position

Talks broke down between USW and IFLRA, resulting in booking out of provincial mediator

Most Read