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Send RoboCop to Mars

Young sci-fi fans have much to rejoice as 180 teams from 68 schools across India will be able to test their skills as they attempt to build robots to withstand the rough, unfriendly terrain and climate on Mars as part of Tricks 2012, a national robotics championship that will be held at IIT’s Mumbai campus on December 1.

Robot rendezvous
While the 2011 edition had tackled environmental issues, this time, the Mars mission theme stood out as the organisers felt it was important for the human race. “Looking at our rapidly increasing population rates, we would soon need another planet that is conducive to human life. So far, Mars seems like the most likeable choice,” explains Gagan Goyal, an IIT-ian and founder, CEO of ThinkLabs, the organisers of the competition.


Participants at the previous edition of the All India Robotics Championship

While these robots might not be as technologically superior as those built at NASA, the idea, Goyal maintains, is to get the younger generation to think and solve problems using robotics. “At the same time, it will open new avenues for robotics in India, and promote the younger generation to look for a prospective future in it.”

The National Robotics Championship, currently on its fifth year, will witness school children across age groups who will battle it out to prove their supremacy in robotics. The championship has been divided into two categories: Tele Mars (remote controlled robots) open to Grade 6 students and Auto Mars (automatic), open to Grade 12 students.

Participants in each group will be presented with a problem, which they will have to solve, with a robot’s aid. “The quality of robots have improved tremendously in the last five years, and this edition will challenge them even further,” adds Goyal. Twelve in-house judges will test not just robotic skills but also presentation and team spirit to pick the winning team.

Goyal adds that space exploration was an apt idea to get students to challenge themselves: “Space fascinates all of us. At one point of time, we have thought about life on Mars or about sending a mission. Besides, what better way to apply classroom teachings than by building a robot that can work in an alien environment?”

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