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Boys to conquer planet

Sunshine Coast Grammar School students Angus Lane, Lokki Brown and Todd Billington are off to Abu Dhabi with their FOOTBALL-playing robot team, The Eliminators, to compete in the World Championships.
Sunshine Coast Grammar School students Angus Lane, Lokki Brown and Todd Billington are off to Abu Dhabi with their FOOTBALL-playing robot team, The Eliminators, to compete in the World Championships. Nicholas Falconer

UNLIKE their Transformers counterparts, these pint-sized robots can't think for themselves, nor are they likely to take over the world.

But, with careful programming and construction by three dedicated Sunshine Coast boys, they may very well beat the world in the robotics arena.

Sunshine Coast Grammar School students Lokki Brown, Angus Lane and Todd Billington, all 14, will fly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in two weeks after being selected to compete in the football division of the Eighth Robotic World Olympiad.

The week-long competition will see the team of three, aptly named The Eliminators, along with their two prized robots Freddie and Haymaker, battle teams from more than 36 countries.

Todd, who became interested in robotics in Year 6, said the boys were all looking forward to a great experience.

"We are very excited to be going over," he said.

Six teams from Australia will attend this year's event, with the Eliminators one of two from Queensland.

Along with football, robotics competitions comprise two other main categories - dance and rescue - and teams are expected to program and construct robots abiding by a set of strict rules and regulations.

Programming is completed on the computers and, teamed with the help of new and old Lego blocks, a robot is born.

In battle, Freddie, the attacker, and Haymaker, the goalie, take on the other two-robots as they attempt to kick the infra-red tracking ball into the opposing goal.

The Eliminators recently competed in the RoboCup Junior Queensland Competition in the football division, remaining undefeated throughout a series of nine combats, and achieving a top-four place.

Previously, the boys placed second twice in the past two years and third the year before that in the state competition, and fourth in the national competition last year.

Todd and Lokki also took out first at last year's Queensland competition, after entering the dance category for the first time.

However, after a quick stint away from football robotics, they have returned and are raring to go for the world competition.

Teacher-in-charge Paul Evans said that working together on something like robotics was a great experience for the students.

"When they are down at the competition, there is a buzz, and it's good for the kids to experience getting to know other people with similar interests," he said.

"There is real comradeship amongst all the boys."

When asked what they were most looking forward to, the boys agreed they were excited about seeing what the rest of the world could do, especially Japan.

"We can't wait to see what Japan has come up with," Todd said.

Lokki said he enjoyed testing himself in his unusual hobby.

"It's really exciting but also challenging," he said.

Mr Evans and his young charges will arrive in Abu Dhabi after a 14-hour flight, but not even jetlag is likely to hold them back.

Just as Optimus Prime, of Transformers fame, once said, "They're a young species. They have much to discover".

Topics:  competition robotics robots world championships


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