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St. Petersburg teenagers created robots of cartoon heroes to clear roofs off icicles.


Cartoon heroes “Malysh” and “Karlson” will clear the city’s rooftops from icicles. Socially useful robots, created at school 239, were given the names of Astrid Lindgren’s characters. This project won the grand prix at the World Robot Olympiad in Jakarta.


Competition was very tough – almost 400 teams from 40 countries. Kseniya Eremenko found out whether such useful creations have any real future.

It didn’t take long to come up with the names for these robots. The “Karlson” lives on the rooftop – just like in the cartoon. And the “Malysh” is his back-up on the ground. The one on the top uses a sensor to identify an icicle and then hits it down, when his partner is ready to catch the ice projectile on the ground. It is absolutely ruled out that an icicle may hit a passer-by. The project’s creators made sure a camera is observing the process 

Egor Fesenko, robot constructor, school 239: “If a man or a dog – any object which shouldn’t be there – finds itself in the area of the works, the camera would send a signal to the robots to cease work until that object leaves their vicinity”. 

The idea of this socially useful project appeared several years ago. When this year organizers of the World Robot Olympiad said that the main theme of the competition will be the protection of UNESCO’s cultural heritage (and St. Petersburg is on that list) – inventors immediately got to work. 

Alexander Semyonov, robot constructor, school 239: “We have a huge issue with icicles in St. Petersburg. That’s why we’ve decided to mend that problem with robots”. 

This invention of St. Petersburg’s schoolboys became the best at the World Robot Olympiad in Jakarta. It’s held every year and gathers the best young inventors from the whole world. This time there were 392 teams from 40 countries in Indonesia. But “Malysh” and “Karlson” – or with their official name “Ice robot” – left everyone behind. 

Igor Lositskiy, head of robot laboratory in school 239: “The Philippines presented a very good project, but they’re always winning. Last year they were 1st.  We thought they’d win again this year. They had some sort of robotized backpack”. 

Next to this year’s winner is one last year’s laureates. Training robot – a local celebrity. 

Kseniya Eryomenko, correspondent: “This robot is called Greta. Thanks to its inventors, it mastered a popular folk activity. It points at your mistakes and chooses speed according to the rival’s. Not bad for a robot! Give me five!” 

The dream of these robots’ creators is for their inventions to become a serial produce. A plan to create real machines to solve the issue of dangerous icicles in the city is there. But, as usual, it needs sponsor money. And if it’s not found, then these robots will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. Most of them are gathering dust at the workshop’s shelves.