In a true David and Goliath story, two Greek teams participating in the World Robot Olympiad 2018 in Thailand, held on the theme ‘Food Matters’, forged ahead of competitors from countries with far greater resources and a stronger tradition in robotics to both win 4th place in their respective competitions.
The Greek junior high school team was from Panorama, Galatsi while the senior students came from Pierce School in Agia Paraskevi. They were competing against teams from another 63 countries, including robotics ‘giants’ Russia, China and Japan.
“We didn’t expect to place so highly,” said Giorgos Markopoulos, in charge of the team ‘Autonomus (AARSA)’ from Galatsi, in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA). His team, which competed in the Junior Open Category had to come up with a way to fight world hunger and decided to focus on aquaponics, developing a system for a remote-access, fully automated and autonomous aquaponics system using robot cranes, robot forklift trucks and sensors with sensational results.
The Autonomus team succeeded in both cultivating plants and farming fish using the same system, with just 2 pct of the water used by conventional agriculture and 30 pct of the energy.
The Pierce team ‘Rest in PCs’ competed in the Senior Open Category with a second aquaponics proposal.
Among the highlights of their experience at the Olympiad, they said, was the strong interest shown by the judges, who plied them with questions, and the very friendly atmosphere between the rival teams.
Talking to the ANA, the members of the team noted that robots were increasingly a daily part of people’s lives but this was not yet fully understood, since people thought of robots as ‘humanoid’.
“The ideas presented at the competition could be immediately implemented in everyday life. All that is needed is for people to learn of these innovations and the application of robotics to daily life in order to reduce technophobia and allow these technologies to take off,” they said.
As to the secret to the Greek team’s success: according to the teacher in charge of the Pierce team, much of the credit goes to the youngsters themselves. “A lot of good work is done by the teachers but our human resources were very good. The kids truly worked hard and their first reward was the enthusiasm of the judges,” he said.