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Robotics contest heads for rAge

South Africa’s finalists in the World Robotics Olympiad will battle it out at the Vodacom rAge expo for a chance to compete internationally

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The World Robotic Olympiad (WRO) is a global event incorporating science, technology, education and robotics, will hold its South Africana finals at  Vodacom rAge 2019 this year. WRO brings together young people from all over the world to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills through a challenging and educational robotics competition. 

Since its inception in 2009, the WRO SA has grown from 30 teams to more than 800. This year, there have been 5 provincial events across the country, with the top 9 qualifying teams, who win the finals across the different categories, getting the chance to compete at the WRO international in Hungary.

The finals of the provincial events will be taking place over the course of the weekend at Vodacom rAge, from 27 to 29 September, at the Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg.

The global theme of WRO for 2019 is “Smart Cities”, and the public is invited to watch as the robotic creations come to life.

Friday afternoon will see the WRO SA National Explorer Competition teams coming out with some of the most interesting creations the WRO has seen to date. This category is not part of the international finals but is rather a category that allows juniors to be a part of this technological phenomenon. These teams are made up of outreach robotics learners who, with the help of WRO SA and the Department of Science and Technology, can potentially move up the ranks into the international finals. This category showcases age-appropriate challenges on tabletops in which teams design, build and program a Lego Mindstorms robot to solve a problem.

Over the course of Saturday, the WRO SA National Competition finals will see teams compete for honours in the advanced robotics categories. Winners over the categories have the chance to take their teams and all their tricks to the world final in Hungary. 

The contest includes a football round-robin, where 10 teams of two robots play autonomous football against each other using an infra-red ball and seekers,  plus a compass sensor.

Sunday will see the Corporate Inter-Company Challenge, when corporate teams can win prizes by programming a robot to solve various challenges on a competition table.

Depending on the challenge, spectators can watch from the bleachers or engage with the teams, get up close and personal with finalists, and get a good look at all the action as it’s happening.

“Being able to showcase the work that WRO SA is doing at an event like Vodacom rAge is extremely exciting for us,” says Danie Heymans of WRO SA. “Our teams are made up of coders and programmers who are immersed in the world of robotics – a category with a massive overlap into the world of gaming. A lot of these contestants are going to become a pivotal part of the future of gaming in SA and for them to have exposure across this platform is phenomenal.”

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