So much so, that the Year 12 students were crowned ‘Superteam Robotics Champions', after defeating some of the world’s leading technology giants.
“Their robots weren’t the most expensive and they weren’t the most advanced ... but the design of the robot was really, really good,” master in charge of robotics, Colin Noy says.
“Others were faster, but [ours] were accurate ... undeniably, our goalie was the best programmed robot in the Lightweight Soccer Competition, responding perfectly every time,” he adds.
The team was made up of five Year 12 students, who have been tinkering away in the school’s extra-curricular robotics club for some time.
“This is probably about an 18-month challenge to actually get to the stage that they’re competitive at this level,” Noy explains.
“Going back from the concept stage, these boys have been working together for several years, so I think this is design number three or four that they’ve built, and each year, they compete with the one that they built in the previous 18 months while they’re busy refining and building the new one.”
Just like superstar athletes require intense training regimes to compete at an elite level, RoboCup is no different.
“The competition was the cream and the sugar of the brilliant minds of the young people under 19 years of age, both male and female,” Noy, whose wife jokingly calls herself a “robotics widow”, says.
Noy often quips with the boys that at this level, the commitment to robot soccer is 364 days a year.
The college’s team initiated a new tactic in the RoboCup this year, allowing communication between the robots through Bluetooth.
The boys’ exceptional programming enabled their robots to switch roles mid-game if the goalie was closer to the ball than the striker, by measuring the distance between them, making the robots intuitive of one another as well as the game itself.
The boys’ success, Noy says, comes down to problem-solving, group work, persistence and interest.
“The key to it is, they have control of what they’re doing, they’re involved in the development and they go through the successes and also the failures which they have to deal with.”
The students experienced a setback in a game against the German team, when some rough play resulted in a broken battery lead on the Australian side.
“The boys weren’t prepared for this,” Noy recalls. “They didn’t have another one made up. So it took them four minutes, they grabbed the robot, raced back to their bench, soldered up a new battery lead and had it back on and the robot back on the field.
“During the time their robot was off, the other team scored two goals.” “I was just so proud of the boys because they were up late at night, ... they troubleshooted, they never got flustered at all, it was just, ‘OK, this is what’s happened, let’s deal with it’,” Noy says.
“Those qualities are things that the boys are going to take out into the real world. And these are the people that are going to make a difference.”