RoboCup 2019, a world robotics championships, was held recently in Sydney with over 50 countries participating in it. A team from India’s BGS World School comprising four students of class 8 and 9 took part in the Junior On-stage category of the contest. They presented a theme with the robots that they designed, built and programmed. Amid robots whizzing around the hall at the Sydney’s International Convention Center, Indian Link caught up with the students for a quick chat.
Talking about their presentation at the competition, one of the students, Karthik, said, “We selected a real-life incident as the theme of our robotic presentation in the Junior On-stage category. There was a piece of sensational news about an interstate organ transplant in the newspapers. The heart was transported within a few hours from Bangalore to Chennai with the city traffic controllers in both the cities halting the entire traffic to facilitate the transplantation. We chose this theme of how everybody came together to save a life. We scripted the narration, composed background music and we performed this act with our five robots playing different characters.”
Inchara, a class 8 student, explained, “We presented our organ donation theme thrice during this tournament. Then we participated in the next round, which is a super team concept, where three countries came together to present a new theme. We coordinated with people from Singapore and Italy for this presentation for which the theme was ‘save the environment’. As one of our robots had to perform in this theme, we had to change the entire programming of the robots to this new theme within a few hours. We learned effective teamwork when we worked with other teams and also, got to know different types of robots.”
We selected a real-life incident as the theme of our robotic presentation in the Junior On-stage category. There was a piece of sensational news about an interstate organ transplant in the newspapers. We chose this theme of how everybody came together to save a life…. with our five robots playing different characters.
This team from India reached the international stage after winning two regional level robotic competitions in India. About prepping for this tournament, Ananya from the students’ team said, “For the past three months, we used to practice for our presentation for three hours every day after school. We even utilized the free periods during school hours to discuss the programming of the robots with our teachers. The practical application of the theories during designing of the robots at the robotic labs was an interesting part of our preparation.”
Ranjit Kumar Mandal, the principal of BGS World School, who accompanied the students for this tour, said, “Apart from the rigorous training period of three months, the students have been gearing themselves for the past six years. They have been participating in the robot exhibition and various robot contests all these years. Robotics is compulsory in their school curriculum as well. Learning STEM education and the exposure to robotics that they received in their school at this young age helped them to reach this level.”
These students are from a rural part of India, Chickallapur, which is about 100km from Bangalore. “Most of their parents weren’t even aware of what robotics and international competitions are all about. When these students were selected for the Sydney contest, we called the parents and mentally prepared them to support their kids. The students slowly gained confidence after participating in the regional level tournaments with a hundred other teams in India,” said the principal.
“It was a different experience for us with our school principal, who was parenting us these days. We felt very good when he treated us like our moms – ‘Take biscuit, eat breakfast and so on…’ We also cooked for him when he was a bit unwell. We enjoyed bonding with him like this during this trip,” said Bhavatej from the team.
India has been actively participating in RoboCup championships for the past six years. RoboCup is an annual robotics competition that promotes technological advancement in robotics. The major competition of the championship was the robot soccer games, in which many teams across the globe participated in the senior category. To encourage young minds, there are many categories that carry different themes and the Junior On-stage is one among them.
It was a different experience for us with our school principal, who was parenting us these days. We felt very good when he treated us like our moms – ‘Take biscuit, eat breakfast and so on…’ We also cooked for him when he was a bit unwell.
About India’s role in the championship, David Prakash, CEO isel Robotik India and also the Chairman RoboCup Junior India, said, “So far we had been to Brazil, China, Japan, Canada and this year we have come to Sydney to compete with some of the best teams in the world. For the past two years, we are doing well in this competition. This year, apart from this junior team, there is also another team from India, who have participated in the ‘rescue robot’ category. They were one of the top ten teams in that category. It is a big achievement to reach within the top 10 positions at this competition.
“People across India enthusiastically participated in the regional level competitions to qualify for the international level. During the initial few years only 20 teams across the nation had participated; last year, around 600 teams took part in the regional levels. These numbers tell how competent and enthusiastic we are when it comes to robotics. Isel has been conducting robotics classes in 35 schools across India with 26,000 youngsters learning robotics.”
The junior team from India gave a commendable presentation but didn’t make it to the top position in the competition. “It is not about winning or losing. It is all about the new ideas that they have learned during this entire travel. Their all-new experience began the moment they boarded their flight in Bangalore. Having come here, they got the chance to see other teams perform and learn new problem-solving skills from them. As they met a lot of creative minds across the globe at this venue, they got to learn new technological advancements. This exposure is more important than anything else. During this stint, they learned how to practically apply the programming lessons that they study in their classrooms. That learning experience is the real outcome of this competition”, said David Prakash.