~Robots using infrared detectors for sight, ultrasonic range finders for distance, and a compass for direction, descended on SAC May 1 for the York Region RoboCup Junior Open.
This is the fifth year SAC has hosted the one-day event, but the first time in the School’s Centre for Leadership, Innovation & Performance. All teams marveled at the new facilities, which were put to good use just one day prior to its official opening May 2.
Ten teams, two from as far as British Columbia, arrived with their autonomous “thinking” robots. Unlike remote-control robots, these ones are preprogramed in advance to compete in one of two events: two-on-two soccer played on a competition-sized table that replicates a playing field; and a new maze design rescue competition.
The Soccer Challenge
Eight student teams flicked on their robots and stepped back to watch the action. Each team had two robots; usually one goalie and the other a striker. The robots had to find the ball using infrared detectors, ensure they were facing the opponent’s goal using a compass, and stay inbounds using ultrasonic rangefinders and/or other detectors. It was amazing to watch. The goal of the international competition is to have robots compete against people by the year 2050.
A team from Toronto’s Earl Haig Secondary School made its debut and was led by an enthusiastic young woman who brought a team of 10, mostly girls. Her robot looked very polished and was a testament to her love of engineering.
The Rescue Challenge
Two teams challenged the maze designed for the new rescue competition. Autonomous robot had to follow a black line on the ground, locate 5-cm balls, and transport them to a designated area on the field. The competition was made all the more challenging because the black line was not continuous; parts of it were missing, it had 90-degree turns; and random green markings, which the robot had to detect and “know” to turn toward the marking when detected. The intelligence required to make a robot intelligent is daunting.
This year, the MapleTech team from British Columbia won the Rescue Challenge. The teams found the new version of the challenge very difficult; however, the final scores of both teams competing were very close.
The accolades of the day had to go to Jordan Brown’15 and his Varsity Robotics Club. Jordan competed in the competition before, and this year decided to give back to the community by starting a club. His club met throughout the year during lunch, always challenging themselves to find innovative ways to attack the soccer challenge.
Their efforts paid off, as their team defeated all challengers. Congratulations to Jordan and the other members of the club: Andrew Olechtchouk’16, Artiom Lisin’16, Alex Xu’16,
Danil Ojha’16, Darrian Spampinato’16, Dylan Van Eeden’16, Justin Lai’15, Mark Hsu’15, Nicholas Chow’16, Tristan Tsvetanov’16, Gary Zhou’16, Yazan Siyam’16, and Tiger Xu’16.
The popularity of robotics at St. Andrew’s has grown steadily over the past few years. What started as a club in 2006 turned into a grade 11 and 12 computer engineering course and now clubs have also been reintroduced for grades 9 through 12 students. The Dunin Engineering Centre in the CLIP has two classrooms donated to robotics: the Xu Family Classroom and the Reucassel Classroom. It also houses a 3D printer that all the SAC boys used to design and build the body of their robots.
At the opening ceremonies on May 2,, a student who witnessed SAC’s first-place performance at the World Cup in Istanbul in 2011 commented that this year’s robots are better than ever.
Story by Terry Prezens, Computer Science teacher