RoboCup Junior Australia 2015 National Championships

Wombat Fitness - Click for blog homepageWhile David was away in the USA and Mexico, I got to accompany Rohan to the RoboCup Junior Australia 2015 National Championships on 26th and 27th September 2015. You may know from past blogs that robotics has been a bit of a hobby for David and our sons. This year, being in the National Competition meant travelling to Gawler, South Australia.

Aaron, who has been successful in the Rescue competition is now too old to compete. He has been mentoring the younger students and would have been very useful to have with us, but we have an ageing puppy dog who was already pining for the master of the house, so Aaron got the job of house and dog sitting while Rohan and I flew to Adelaide with the other competitors and parents from All Saints’ College.

In all we were 4 teams; 10 students, 11 parents and several siblings and 1 school staff member. (Cat herding now seems simple in comparison.)

Open Dance: Pickle Jar Productions (Josh, Megan, Noah, Sarith and Rohan) with Priscilla the Gorilla

Secondary Rescue: Team Sonic (Jay, Liam and Mason)

Open Rescue: BEN (Pragash) & Vindaloo (Disura)

The competition venue was about a 40 min drive out of Adelaide (the state capital city) and accommodation for such a large group was scarce, so we ended up staying at Tanunda Discovery Holiday Park in the Barossa Valley, an area you may well know for its excellent wines.  Tanunda is a lovely, historic little village, still about 40 mins from Gawler, but without the city traffic. This was fine with me as I got the added task of driving the bus (a surprisingly speedy Hyundai iMax van) handed on to me thanks to David’s past efforts as chauffer extraordinaire.

I have to confess here, that despite being given strict instructions from David to follow all the teams and competitions, I am a Mum first and foremost, so I may have spent the vast majority of my time watching the Open Dance Competition, where Rohan’s team was competing.

I did watch some of the Secondary and Open Rescue competition and it is amazing to see the work and development that has gone into all the rescue robots.  Since we started this journey some 7 years ago, the standard of competition has improved incredibly.  From very unreliable, line-following robots that could navigate some simple obstacles to locate a “victim” (soft-drink can), this year I witnessed very sophisticated robots meet the challenges of ramps, speed bumps, sloping terrain and more.  In the finals of the Open Rescue the students’ robots had to autonomously navigate the course to the “chemical spill” and identify and rescue (in a controlled manner) multiple “victims” without falling off raised tiles. The following photos and video (apologies for the adjudicator’s legs) may explain that better:

Course1Example Course 1

Course2Example Course 2

RoboCup Junior Australia 2015 Open Rescue National Championships – BEN (direct link)


When you think that the competitors are mostly 12 – 16 year old school children, it gives me a lot of hope for our future. 

Teams had travelled from Korea and Croatia sent their National Team to compete in the Australian National competition.  The All Saints’ teams did well, but “Michael” from Box Hill High School (Victoria) won Secondary Rescue and “Marshmallow” from St George Christian College (New South Wales) took out the Open Rescue Competition.

Meanwhile, in the Open Dance Competition the stress levels were high.  This was Rohan’s last year of competing and the pressure was on the rest of his (younger) team mates to bring home the bacon.  You can look at the photos and watch the video but they will never truly convey the hours and hours of work that has gone into all the competition entries.  Without wanting to sound like I am bragging too much you need to know that the 5 kids in Pickle Jar Productions:

  • Selected and mixed the music
  • Built and painted the backdrop
  • Wired and soldered the LED lighting that runs along the backdrop
  • Choreographed Pricilla’s movements, the truck movements and their dance.
  • Built Pricilla, the truck and the spinning big top
  • Programmed Pricilla, the truck and the spinning big top
  • Made Pricilla’s feet, hands and face by painting latex over clay moulds that they also made
  • And probably a whole lot more that I have missed

Remember that once the “go” button is pressed the performance is totally autonomous without any input or interaction from the team.

Here is the video of Priscilla the Gorilla and the Pickle Jar Productions finals performance:

RoboCup Junior Australia 2015 Open Dance National Championships – Pickle JAR Productions – Finals (direct link)


Robocup Junior Australia – 4 controllers, 16 motors and one very cool monkey!


At the end of the day, when scores from the performances and interviews were tallied, Pickle Jar Productions came second, pipped at the post by the other West Australian team, The NX-Twins EVolv3 (Melville Senior High School). This reversed the results from the WA finals where Pickle Jar won and the NX-Twins came second. All I’m saying is that it must have been close.

PickleJar1Pricilla gets some love before for the big day

PickleJar2Pickle Jar Productions relieved it’s all over

After the competition was over the All Saints’ Teams and the NX-Twins with Mum and Dad enjoyed a rather noisy dinner together at a local tavern in Tanunda. We had a day to relax and see some sights before boarding the plane home.  We chose to visit the local hill lookout and sculpture park and the Adelaide Zoo.  Yes, and we managed to sneak in one (just one!) winery.

For the previous posts on the RoboCup robotics competition see:

This is the final year that our boys will be competing in the RoboCup Junior Australia competition as they are finishing or have finished secondary school. David will continue to be involved as a mentor to the All Saints College Robotics Club.

Till next time.


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