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Soccer playing robots take over Okanagan College

This is Finn Tobin's third RoboCup Jr. competition. Here is is watching his bot navigate itself through the search and rescue challenge at Okanagan College.
December 06, 2014 - 10:28 AM

KELOWNA – Students from across the province were in Kelowna Friday for an annual competition that teaches them about teamwork, competition and robotics.

The RoboCup is a robotics championships where teams of students between grades seven and 11 build and program small robots to complete complex tasks. This year the challenges were soccer, and search and rescue.

Dan Massey is a teacher at Const. Neil Bruce Middle School. He brought six teams to Okanagan College as part of an enrichment program that encourages extracurricular activities like spaghetti bridge building, electronics and 3D printing.

“(The students) have to accomplish a certain amount of things for the rescue challenge,” he says. “The robots start in a bottom room, navigate a line and when they get to a green intersection they have to know to take the right-hand path and go up the ramp. If there’s a gap in the line they have to navigate that and if there’s something in the way they have to avoid it. When they get into the last room there is a “victim” (an aluminum can) they have to find and put on a platform. It’s a lot of fun and the kids love it.”

Finn Tobin and Sean Steeves are grade 9 students at Neil Bruce Middle School. This is their third year competing at the RoboCup Jr.

“It’s really fun,” Steeves says. “We’re doing better each run.”

Students are given four tries on the search and rescue competition with points given based on how many challenges they complete.

“If you can enter a room you get a point, if you can get up a ramp, you get points,” Steeves says.

The soccer competition is a round robin tournament where the robots try to move an infrared-emitting electronic ball into a goal.

Nadir Ould-Khessal is the chair of the electronics engineering department at Okanagan College and the national representative for the RoboCup Jr. competition.  He says this year there were 34 teams with over 90 students participating.

“We have teams that come from Vancouver, Salmon Arm, Vernon and all over B.C.,” he says. “The students learn about science, how to program robots, lots of electronics and programming and math. They learn quite a bit about engineering and technology.”

The top teams that qualify will be eligible to participate in the World Championship in China.

For a list of winners in each category, visit the RoboCup Jr. website.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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