Setting New Records: Robotex 2017

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Between 24th to 26th November, the Estonian Fair Centre in Tallin hosted the annual Robotex Event, which was visited by over 25,000 people.

3,195 Robotics enthusiasts took part in the competitions and on Sunday afternoon, the Minister of Education and Research, Mailis Reps, together with the head of the organising committee of Estonia 100, Jaanus Rohumaa, ceremonially announced the number of robots competing in Robotex, which was 1,132. This has allowed Robotex to apply for a Guinness world record as the official biggest robotics event, globally.

“Robotex is so much more than just building robots. It’s about encouraging a way of thinking, that technology is interesting and challenging and that engineering is creative and varied. We’re glad that this way of thinking has spread to kindergartens and elementary schools, and that it continues to prosper as students get older and reach university,” says Maarja Kruusmaa, Professor of Biorobotics at Tallinn University of Technology, and one of the founders of Robotex.

“Robotex was a success on every level. The workshops provided an opportunity for first experiences with robotics, the conference dealt with some of the most topical and intriguing questions in the technology field, and the expo displayed a number of advanced robots and other robotic solutions, which you could also interact with. At the heart of the event, however, were the competitions that culminated with a fascinating Basketball Battle, the widely known Maze Solving competition, and other challenging competitions, that were designed specifically for Robotex. It was a pleasure to hear that Estonian robotics instructors think of Robotex as a giant fun robotics party. They were all extremely involved in this year’s event by giving advice and supporting the success of Robotex,” said Robotex CEO, Ave Laas.

The 2017 Robotex replaced the long running traditional football match with basketball, one of the most difficult competitions. The first four prizes in the basketball competition went to students from the University of Tartu. According to Professor Alvo Aabloo, the students had been preparing for the basketball match back in September, and the instructors started earlier. “The previous football competition was basically a two-dimensional challenge. With basketball, a third dimension was added, which made things significantly more complicated. The teams had to come up with a solution for picking up the ball and making an exact shot,” said Aabloo. He also emphasised teamwork and how this can be measured by the success in results.

Robotex also hosted the world’s first ever robot only concert. For this project, the band, Focus Space, played in front of approximately 30 robots. The band included Jurgen Urbanik on Keyboard, Joosep Niinmeister on Trumpet, and Vahur Orrin on Percussions.

“We held this concert for the most intelligent and clever robots at Robotex. The band tried to relate to the robots and use music to stir emotions in them. This was our way of “humanizing” the robots,” said Vahur Orrin, who originally came up with the idea for the concert and also produced the performance.

“It is very likely the first-ever live concert in the world, that was organised specifically for robots” added Orrin.

Robotics News, December 6