Clever robot brings a ‘really good feeling’

Maia Robertson, 13, of Columba College, Dunedin, with her robot named Armadillo. PICTURE: Otago Daily Times

More than 100 bright young minds tested their engineering and programming skills at the Otago Robocup regionals in Dunedin at the weekend.
Among them was Maia Robertson, of Columba College, who won first place in the premier search and rescue category, despite being the youngest competitor in the category.
Competitors build and program robots to follow a line and then pick up a can and place it on a block.
Maia, who last year built the robot which won top prize nationally in the junior search and rescue category, said she enjoyed the challenge of building and programming robots.
Making a good robot took lots of effort and plenty of trial and error.
“It’s mostly time and commitment and perseverance.
“It goes wrong a lot and you have to not get frustrated with it.”
But when it went right it was a “really good feeling”.
After spending an hour or two each night since February working on the robot, she had gained a lot of affection for the machine. She named the robot Armadillo.
“I had to take pieces off last year’s one to add to this one and it felt quite sad taking the robot apart.”
She believed her robot had performed well and hoped to improve it before competing in the national competition, also being held in Dunedin.
St Hilda’s Collegiate head of technology Julie McMahon said Robocup competitors were learning important skills which could help them find work in today’s high-tech world.
As president of New Zealand Association for Computing, Digital and Information Technology Teachers she was involved in developing the nationwide curriculum for digital technology, becoming mandatory in 2018.
Children learning digital technology was crucially important for New Zealand’s future, because not enough people were becoming engineers or IT professionals, Ms McMahon said. Otago Daily Times

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