DAIS at the World Robotics Olympiad
My journey in robotics started in April 2016, when I was enjoying a break between my old school and start of the academic year at DAIS. I wanted to do something productive with my time; hence I enrolled for a robotics course at Kids Techie Club. I enjoyed the time spent in robotics classes, and I got perfect scores at the end of the course. During this time, the liking for robotics got inculcated in me and I was keen to do more. At the same time, the head coach at KTC (Suyog Nair), saw a spark in me and insisted that I participate in the upcoming World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) in the Junior High Category (for ages 13-15 years). I willingly accepted the proposal and teamed up with two other students of KTC, Kahaan Shah and Dev Panchal. We named our team “Scorpion Stingers”!
The theme for the WRO this year was “Rap the Scrap” and its aim is to produce robots for reusing, managing and recycling waste. Our challenge for the Junior High category was as follows – there were four main types of waste (denoted by different coloured blocks), further divided into two categories (denoted by sizes of the blocks). There were eight disposal bins and the challenge was to program the robot to identify, pick up, manage and dispose the correct waste into their respective disposal bins. The challenge at hand was not an easy one. Over the course of five months, we constantly had to remake and modify the construction as well as the programs of the robot until it could achieve the task flawlessly. At some points, we got really frustrated and could not think of how to proceed further; however we were determined to reach our goal which was to accomplish the challenge with a perfect 100 score. The week before the regional level of the competition, our robot finally achieved the goal of a perfect score. We were extremely happy and felt confident; but knew that achieving the same target in the competition was a mammoth task, as all the movement values and light intensities, would change according to the conditions prevalent during the time of the competition.
The regional competition for Mumbai regionals, was held over two days, September 24th and 25th. The first day was a practice day, for us to calibrate our robot and to correct minor fluctuations. On the practice day, we again managed to score an exact 100. Our team jumped for joy! Scorpion Stingers were ready to sting in the competition. At last, the day arrived when all our effort was put at stake, the day of the WRO regionals. During practice and assembly time, our team put up an excellent performance and were off to a good start. However, none of the 27 teams participating in our category knew exactly how tough this challenge was. In the first round, our team managed to score merely a 21 out of 100, which to our shock was the highest as no team had attained marks above 0. In the second round as well, due to changes in intensity, our robot failed to complete the task.
Between the second and final round, there was no time to practice. So, our team had no choice but to use intuition and skill to modify the robot, based on learnings from the previous rounds and reach success. When we ran the robot in the final round, my heart was stuck in my throat…with each and every movement of the robot, I could feel my heart accelerating more. And then, to the stingers’ pleasant surprise…the robot had successfully completed the challenge! All the judges were ecstatic, we were in seventh heaven, and the atmosphere in the hall was absolutely electric. We had managed to score 95, which was the highest score among all the teams in the time restrictions provided. And as it turned out, our performance was the best among all the teams in our category and we were judged as the best team at the regional level and we secured Rank 1.
Now we are looking forward to better our performance at the National as well as International level of WRO to be held in October and November this year. I am very happy to have a school like DAIS to support and encourage me through this journey.