Smarter robotics students to face tougher challenges

Posted on Thursday 23rd March 2017

Robotics students are getting smarter, so organisers of the international Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition have put them on notice – next year’s contest is going to be more difficult!

Teams representing schools in the World ORT network once again dominated the winners’ table even as the competition, which is hosted by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, attracts a wider range of teams.

The competition involves putting small programmed robotic cars on a track where they have to deal with simulated road conditions. Other challenges include SolidWORKS in which students use Computer Aided Design to make 3D models of car parts and presenting a new idea to improve road safety.

“We can see that students are getting smarter year after year. So we have to make it more challenging, more difficult,” Professor Shoham said.

His observation is a compliment not only to the students but also to their teachers, who are increasingly adept at putting their experience to good use in the classroom and in extra-curricular robotics clubs.

“This year there were students who built their own car from scratch instead of using a kit. It was very impressive,” said Professor Shoham. “It’s a good way to go and we would like to add this to the competition by giving credit to students who build the robot themselves.”

This year’s competition narrowly broke last year’s record of 1,000 participants, attracting teams from 80 schools from Argentina, Israel, Mexico, Ukraine, Russia and the United States. Teams from the World ORT network comprised half the entries in the high school category.

Schools in, or affiliated to, the World ORT network took 13 of the top three places in each of the competition’s six categories. Those coming first were ORT Odessa, ORT Moscow School, ORT Kiev School and Misgav. ORT Odessa was the overall winner in the junior category with ORT Kazan third. 

Mikhail Libkin, who coordinated the ORT teams from the Former Soviet Union, was struck, for example, by the enthusiasm of the ORT Chernivtsi students.

“They are very young guys – in years 7 and 8 – and don’t yet know what they would like to do after they leave school. But we know for sure that they’re interested in learning design, programming, maths and physics and that they enjoy working in a team and completing projects. They’re not afraid of technology – and I’m sure they’ll remember their schooldays with joy,” Mr Libkin said.

The non-Israeli teams spent the days before the competition at Abir Yaakov near Nahariya, one of six schools in the World ORT Kadima Mada network. In between practising for the competition, they were taken on a series of excursions around the country.

“This is my first time in Israel and it’s been very interesting. I like it very much,” said Sasha Volinskiy, a member of the ORT Kiev team. “We’ve seen a lot but the high point was visiting Jerusalem; it has a magical power for me.”


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