Robots like never before

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Programme it . . . St Hilda's Collegiate School year 8 pupils Lucie Holtz (13, left) and Ella Hodgeson (12) show off the robots and coding their team will be using in the Robocup nationals next weekend. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

If you have ever wanted to see robots perform Mary Poppins, now is your chance.

Thirteen St Hilda’s Collegiate School year 8 pupils will take part in RoboCup Junior New Zealand, a robotics competition for children.

St Hilda’s head of technology Julie McMahon said all the school’s year 8 pupils took part in the regional competition and many qualified for the national event.

The pupils first learnt about robots in term one and had been “perfecting” their skills and knowledge since then, she said.

They are working in teams and will compete in the theatre or rescue division. There will also be a football competition.

The team competing in the theatre division – Mary and the Poppins – are programming their robots to re-enact Mary Poppins

Team member Lucie Holtz said they had to programme the robots to interact with each other and in time to the music.

“It takes a lot of time but it’s worth it.”

The team will be dancing while the robots are moving and will be interviewed by the judges to explain their project.

The rescue competition mirrors the real-life use of robots that rescue people from life-threatening situations. Teams have to programme their robots to follow a black line on a mat – straight or curved – to a large green area at the end to simulate searching for a victim.

The victim is represented by a silver can, which the robot has to find and push to safety.

Pupils programmed the robots by creating a code on their computers, which they then transferred to the robots.

Ms McMahon said the teams had been working on their robots for about four weeks. It was a great project, as it incorporated maths, science and arts.

RoboCup Junior New Zealand will be held in Dunedin on Saturday, September 16.