Robots rucking on a tropical isle?
Eurobot 2004, an international competition within the European Science Week, which pits robots built by students against one another, is concluding today at the European Parliament. Thousands of students have taken part in the build up to the award ceremony in Brussels.
This is not the first time that Eurobot has staged this battle of the ‘bots. But it is the first time the event has been associated with the European Science Week initiative. Now in its seventh year, this science and technology competition gives students from universities, engineering schools and science clubs a chance to compete against the best robot builders in Europe.
|Robots doing battle during the national heats|
The award ceremony being held in Brussels today brings together some 3 000 youngsters from 20 countries who successfully competed in eight national events – in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland – throughout the year.
The competitions – which attracted over 90 000 visitors and, through coverage on 15 stations, drew millions of TV viewers – gave the robot builders a chance to share their knowledge, while raising awareness of European science and technology. This year’s robot design challenge was to create fully autonomous machines that ‘play rugby on a tropical island’.
Battle of the ‘bots
European Science Week (8-14 November) is one of numerous Science and Society initiatives hosted each year by the European Commission with the aim of forging closer ties between the world of science and the lives of European citizens, especially young people. “Science is more than laboratories and Bunsen burners: it can also be full of fun!” the literature stresses.
European Science Week’s stated goal is to “show rather than tell young Europeans – and the young at heart – how science and technology can have a very real and rewarding effect on their daily lives”. This annual event acts as a focal point for national Science Week initiatives across the 25 EU countries.
Concern that the European Union may experience a shortage of researchers in coming generations, the Commission is targeting young people through such activities as European Science Week. It wants to show science in a more user-friendly way to Europeans who are unfamiliar with it and who recently expressed some reluctance to scientific progress.
Veronique Raoul of the VM Group, Paris (FR), which is organising Eurobot, said in a statement that the Commission’s support for this competition shows its commitment to initiatives which help young people get involved in science. “More than a competition,” she said, “Eurobot is a surprising and exciting event combining high technology, creativity, education, passion and entertainment.” It offers students the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas, and to put robotic theory into practice in a fun project.
Apart from the Eurobot competition, the public will be able to attend and participate in various Science Week events all over Europe. Among these are conferences about ’the taste for science’ in France or ‘superconductivity in everyday life’, in Hungary. In another activity, European schools will compete in an essay contest covering several countries about what the intelligent school of tomorrow will look like.
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