Each November, Pitsco’s Tim Lankford and Mohit Abraham fly overseas to represent TETRIX® at the World Robot Olympiad, an international robotics event that's held in a new country every year.
The 2016 WRO was held in New Delhi, India, November 25-27. There are categories for different age groups, but the TETRIX representatives are focused on the Advanced Robotics Challenge with its Robot Bowling challenge. For this, robotics teams – usually composed of high school and college-age students – must program a robot to pick up a snooker ball and throw it down a lane to knock down pins.
“They added complexity to how they pick up the balls,” Tim said. “They had to harvest the balls from an acrylic box, which made it a little more difficult to pick up. And there was random placement of the pins that they had to deal with as well."
Tim said the difference in the game seemed to encouraged some more compelling robot constructions. “Overall, there was more variety in their builds with the mechanical approach in solving the problem. Last year in Qatar, you saw quite a few similar-looking bots, and this year there were only a couple that didn’t depart from that. We had some good, technically well-built robots.”
In the Advanced Robotics Challenge bowling game, first place went to the Chinese Taipei team I.T.C., second place was a tie between the Chinese Taipei teams NCTU Robotics and Dreamcatcher. To see the rest of the top eight finalists, visit the WRO website. To read more about the 2016 event, visit here.
If competitors thought there were a lot of changes this year, the 2017 event will really shake things up. First, the game will change entirely. A new game concept, TetraStack, was presented and approved. In this game, autonomous robots must pick up different pieces on the field and stack them into a framed-in wall.
“This game was originally presented in Sochi[, Russia] three years ago,” Tim said, referring to the beginning of the advanced category. “They adopted the bowling game instead because they felt that this one was going to be a little too difficult to start with.”
Now that teams have had a couple of years of experience, they should be able to tackle the new challenge, which should remind people of a classic video game.
“They’ll basically have to play Tetris," Tim said. "It should be a creative game for them to have to solve.”
Another big change for the whole WRO event in 2017 is that it will held in Costa Rica. This is the first time the WRO has ever been held in the Western Hemisphere. Tim, who has visited Costa Rica in recent years to train TETRIX dealers there, said the country will be a great place for WRO competitors and will be worth the long flight.
“It's a beautiful country. They are a very open, friendly people,” he said, adding that he saw many Costa Rica representatives getting feedback at this year’s event. “They are engaged in making this event a positive experience.”
As Costa Rica is a country very much focused on sustainable energy and preserving their natural resources and biodiversity, the organizers have already determined that next year’s event will have a sustainability theme. To learn more about the 2017 event, look for updates at the WRO website.