It’s almost that time of the year when robots take to the arena to battle, slice and dice their opponents in a fierce game of war, thanks to the Mini Robot Rumble.
You may have seen the UK’s popular Robot Wars that screens on TV every weekend, but did you know that for the second year running, New Zealand has its own version?
The Mini Robot Rumble is run by the Auckland University Robots Association Initiative and supported by Vodafone.
The first round will be held on July 14 at Vodafone’s offices in Smales Farm in Auckland.
It gives students a chance to build small robots up to 2.72kg depending on the robot’s category (ant or beetle; rolling, shuffling, or non-wheeled).
The robots will then battle to the death by destroying each other through a number of rounds until one robot is crowned the victor.
According to the FAQs, robots should be ‘tough and ruthless’ because they’ll be fighting for survival. And if you turn up at the arena hoping to borrow a ready-made robot, you’re out of luck.
The locally-run tournament means that Kiwis don’t have to spend thousands travelling overseas to participate.
The Auckland University Robotics Association initiative has also run a number of larger scale versions in Australia, the United States, and China.
According to Auckland University Robotics Association treasurer Harry Duncan, the competition is open to Kiwi students from all walks of life.
“We thought it was important to think about how we could make this competition open to everyone, including low decile schools. A kit can cost up to thousands of dollars, but Vodafone’s support means we can offer a kit for $250, which is eight times cheaper than current models,” he says.
The Auckland University Robotics Association is selling the beginner’s kits that are simple and include step-by-step instructions.
Why is Vodafone getting behind it? Technology director Tony Baird believes that it’s vital to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in New Zealand.
That’s why it was a simple decision to support the Mini Robot Rumble and ensure that registration is free, he says.
“We know how important it is to grow future engineers and technologists, not just for Vodafone, but for the benefit of New Zealand’s economic development.
“It’s fantastic to think that many of the students taking part in this competition will be able to use what they’ve learnt to bring about transformation in this rapidly evolving digital age.”