Sixth formers at the Student Robotics Competition 2019

The weekend of the 6th and 7th April saw five sixth formers from Headington’s Student Robotics team take part in the annual robotics competition for 16-18 year-olds from the UK and Europe. Run by Southampton University, it is the UK’s biggest autonomous robotics competition.

From November, the team had to design, build and test their fully-autonomous robots, which then competed against other teams in the final competition.

The competition this year was called Caldera. The aim was for teams to pursue scoring zones with tokens while navigating an arena with raised platforms. Twenty-five scoring zones were arranged in a grid varying in value. The outermost 16 zones were worth two points, eight zones in a ring on a raised ‘volcano’ were worth seven points apiece and the central ‘Caldera’ was worth 30 points.

Head of Computing Mr Matt Howe said: “It was a great journey watching our team quickly adapting their robot’s physical design and software to overcome many unforeseen challenges over the two days.

“It has been fantastic to see our students opting to pursue the more rewarding but risky and challenging strategy to build a robot that would navigate towards and climb the volcano after collecting the tokens.”

The team dealt with a significant hardware failure at the start of the competition that took a long time to rectify. On the second day, after realising that some hardware problems were becoming too troublesome, the team redesigned the robot and reprogrammed it with increasing success. Unfortunately however, it was not quite enough by the end of the competition to place in the knock-out rounds.

Mr Howe said he was extremely proud of the girls’ efforts and added: “They should be congratulated on learning a great deal, working fantastically well under pressure and never giving up.”