The annual TUKS Robot Race Day is back, after being postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now in its eighth year, the event coordinated by the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology has grown in leaps and bounds with more students getting involved and showcasing their innovation, programming, and engineering skills.
Professor Tania Hanekom, Function Head for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria said that as students are still working remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, paper tracks were designed so that they could be printed out on A4 pages and pasted together to allow the race to be attempted at home.
“Students work in teams on their robots making use of all the online skills that they have acquired over the past few months. At this stage, we plan to let every team upload a video of their MARV (Microcontroller-based Autonomous Robotic Vehicle) that navigates a track at home. These videos will serve as the heats for the competition. The teaching team for the microcontrollers module will judge the performance of the MARVs based on the videos to determine the finalists,” she said.
Professor Hanekom also added that the Covid-19 pandemic halted many projects last year which forced students and lecturers to facilitate lessons online which proved to be quite a challenge. “We were disappointed that we could not have a Robot Race Day amongst other projects last year, but this year, we’re glad that we are still strongly supported by the University’s partnerships with industry, which provides the necessary resources to maintain this flagship event. On behalf of the students and the engineering faculty, I would like to thank RS Components SA for assisting us again with various components for the MARVs and general support over the years. We look forward to future engagements with RS,” she added.
Wesley Hood, Education Specialist for RS Components SA said that nurturing the next generation of innovators and engineers was high on the company’s agenda. “One of the ways we continue to support the TUKS Robot Race is by giving the students access to the necessary components and tools they require to build their robots – helping to bring theoretical concepts to life. It’s amazing to see the talent that the University of Pretoria is nurturing within the Engineering Faculty and each year seems to bring new and exciting developments. RS would like to commend Professor Hanekom and her team for their efforts in making the Robot Race Day an annual success,” he said.
This year's Race Day finals will take place on Saturday 28 August 2021. Given the present situation, the event will unfortunately not be open to the public this year but will be presented online. Spectators will be able to join in the fun from anywhere in the galaxy!
For more details click this link. (www.up.ac.za/robotrace)