On 26 November 2016, MGCI placed ninth at the 11th Annual University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Robotics Competition.

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MGCI students prepared Sumo-wrestling robots for UOIT’s Robotics Competition. Photo: Justin Ye

This year’s competition, named “SUMOBOTS: KING OF THE HILL”, required each team to design and program an autonomous EV3 or NXT Lego Robot. Each round of the competition, which lasted two minutes, consisted of eight teams whose robots engaged in head-to-head combat while attempting to remain within a “Sumo Ring.” The Sumo Ring was a Six Sided table that had a small hill in the center. Teams were awarded points based on the number of robots remaining at the end of the round, the number of robots that their robot disabled or pushed off, and the number of times the team crossed the hill situated in the middle.

According to Michael Wrock, a staff who helped run the event, “The UOIT [competition] was started as a way for people to get more involved in robotics and scientific processes of analysis.” This year, 56 teams, 25 schools, 20 staff and over 250 students were present at the competition; a similar turnout was seen the previous year. Marc Garneau CI sent four teams to the competition: MGCI Team A, B, C, and D.

MGCI’s Robotics Club began preparing for the event a month ago. Rather than designing robots that were fast and maneuverable like they had the previous year, they designed their robots to be slow, powerful and steady. A number of different sensors were also incorporated, from colour, to touch, to ultrasonic.

The competition  was held at the Recreation Wellness Centre. Although the actual competition commenced much later, the arena was opened at 9:00 am to allow time for teams to practice and test their robots on the actual stadium. Lunch was then served to the competitors at 11:30 am, and the competition officially began at 12:20 pm.

The Preliminary Rounds consisted of 56 total rounds, each with eight robots competing. Due to miscommunication between judges, the first round had to be redone, which many teams felt was unfair. In addition, the judges occasionally misinterpreted the rules of the competition, resulting in many regulations being neglected entirely. For example, judges did not award points to a disabled robot that could revive itself autonomously and reenter the competition, despite the fact that the competition rules stated otherwise. Due to these judging errors, MGCI Team B lost several points.

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MGCI sent four teams to the UOIT Robotics Competition, held 26 November 2016. Photo: Justin Ye

Nevertheless, MGCI Team C and MGCI Team D both managed to place in the Top 16 and earn a spot in the semi-finals. The remaining two Marc Garneau Teams were both less than 5 points away from qualifying to the next round.

During the semi-finals, teams had to compete in an additional eight rounds, with rules complying to the ones before. MGCI Team D was half a point away from qualifying for the finals.

The winner of the UOIT this year was Team Archbishop Denis O’Connor CSS, from Senator O’Connor College School. Impressively, this team managed to clinch first place for the third year in a row. MGCI Team C and D both received semi-final trophies.

Justin Ye, a Grade 9 student on MGCI Team D, said, “The competition was tough, as robots and their behaviours were pretty unpredictable, and we had to be ready for anything to happen. Nonetheless, I think our team really pulled together and did a really good job making it to the semifinals and being one spot away from the finals.”