World Robot Summit

Two talented Calamvale students have recently returned from an exhilarating trip to Tokyo, Japan for the 2018 World Robot Summit (WRS). WRS is hosted by the Japanese government with a view to build Japan’s presence in the global robotics industry ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The summit drew over 10,000 visitors and was held simultaneously with Japan Robot Week and other robotics-related events in Japan.

Calamvale Community College was the only independent public school in Queensland to compete in the Junior Category of the World Robot Challenge. This foray into the world of international competitive robotics marks the culmination of eight months’ work under the supervision of Mr Eamon Hickey. Year 10 students Michelle Chuong and Wenjie Luo worked tirelessly with their team to design, build, and program a robot from scratch.

The theme for this year’s Junior Competition was “Robots at Home” – our students addressed the issue of food preparation and fresh food intake for individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease or other illnesses that impair fine motor control and hand strength. In the Challenge’s Open Demonstration component, Michelle and Wenjie’s robot demonstrated its capacity to funnel items, such as fruits and vegetables, through a spinning blade which slices and dices them as necessary into a bowl.

Our team not only considered the technical performance of their robot, but also its real-life context – how it will interact with humans, its physical environment, and even other technological devices. The panel of judges asked our entrants to prove the authenticity of their robot as their own creation; they were prompted to explain the technical aspects of their robot, describe their choice of programming language and style, and outline the scope of their teamwork.

Our students’ robotics skills were then put to the test during three skill challenges, couched in deceptively simple language. In the “Robot Guide” test, teams had to guide another robot through an intricate house floorplan with various obstacles. The competing robots then shifted from being guides to being followers in the “Follow Me” test. This challenge had teams contending with speed variations and trajectory changes, and navigating through tight turns in order to follow another robot as accurately as possible. The final task was to “Pick Up” an object – our team had to programme their robot to consider all the variables we, as humans, automatically consider when we move an object, including size and shape, relative weight and height, and the drop-off location.

In the Global Collaboration event, all competitors entered into a new Open Demonstration Challenge with a new theme and newly forged teams. Our students joined together with university students from Thailand and Japan. With Halloween just around the corner, this multi-national team designed and executed a trick-or-treat robot that could dispense candy as requested into waiting bags. For our students, this was a unique opportunity to work with highly proficient individuals for whom robotics is a passion. What Michelle and Wenjie lacked in expertise and experience as secondary students, they made up for with their strong communication and ability to talk the assessors through their demonstration.

Both Michelle and Wenjie strongly believe that their classroom learning at Calamvale prepared them for this competition. Wenjie said, “we wouldn’t have progressed very fair if not for what we learnt in STEAM. The lessons provided us with the requisite knowledge in building, designing, and programming robots.” These two exceptional students also adopted a multidisciplinary approach by drawing from their experiences with challenging English assessment. “The English oral presentation really prepared us to speak confidently in front of expert audiences and improvise when necessary,” Michelle said. Our girls were thrilled to receive expert feedback which complimented their phenomenal oratory skills. “They said that if this was a speaking competition, we would’ve won.”

Wenjie and Michelle thoroughly enjoyed working together and persevering through stressful situations, language barriers and time constraints to deliver great innovative content.

The 2018 World Robot Summit drew international interest, and Calamvale Community College was spotlighted in the Queensland Premier’s media release which emphasised the sheer scope and magnitude of the event. You can read the media release here.