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Space detectives and drillers. School pupils are getting ready for the World Robot Olympiad


Space detectives and footballers with AI. Those are not characters of sci-fi books, but members of the preliminary round of World Robot Olympiad which will take place in Sochi.


Their creators are school pupils, members of the Russian national team. Nikolay Rastvortsev witnessed the flight of their creative fantasy and found out how the young engineers see their chances against competitors from other countries

Three bugs of unknown species scatter to the sides. A robot goes to find those unseen organisms. It makes its own decisions. The developer is merely watching. The programmed satellite broadcasts the images of terrain and draws the map of a distant planet’s depths. The two lower monitors are the robot’s eyes.

Andrey, member of Russian national Robotics team: “It draws the bugs and the crosshairs, which it can hit to catch them. On the right here are pictures where it classifies the bugs and distinguishes between photos of the bugs”

Having found the target the robot easily grabs it and brings it to the base for research. It is one of the projects which will compete at the World Robot Olympiad in Sochi. The main theme of the competition is space.

Another member of the national team – Vasiliy Dunayev. The 7-grader invented an entire production line on an unknown planet. The drill extracts minerals – the red bricks – then loads it onto a spaceship and delivers it back to Earth. The grey bricks – not interesting to scientists – are brought to the construction site. This whole robotic factory was assembled in 11 months. The pupil says he had many different variants and he took some time to deliver a final decision.

Vasiliy Dunayev, member of Russian national Robotics team: “First I thought of assembling a rocket from blocks at a different planet. But then we thought – so what that it would be just assembled? Let’s do the minerals extraction”

Russian footballers still have a chance to become the world’s best. But only these two for now – powered by AI. Football is one of the most difficult nominations at the tournament. A team has two players – a goalie and a striker. Russia’s main rivals are from South-East Asia.

Pavel, member of Russian national Robotics team: “We were told that Malaysians are strong, came up with strong robots. We expect them to appeal often if something goes not their way – like if our robot grabs the ball”

40 teams will represent Russia at the Olympiad, 4 of them – from St. Petersburg. Competition will be strong – talented wonderkids from more than 50 countries will come to Sochi

Nikolay Rastovrtsev, reporter: “The Olympiad winner’s cup is made of construction kit. Pupils from St. Petersburg have already brought trophies last year and the year before. There are chances to add to this collection at the upcoming games in Sochi. After the Olympiad, pupils from the Northern Capital will head to an international cup in Austria. They have been to such competitions twice and brought two gold medals. What’s particularly valuable – they beat adults there”