Oakville Trafalgar H.S. wins robotics competition

A team of students from Oakville Trafalgar High School won the Innovation Nation Robotics Competion today. Their robot was designed for a game but can be easily modified for workplace applications.

Robot designed for game has commercial applications

The student robotics team from Oakville Trafalgar High School won the Innovation Nation Robotics Competition today in Huntsville, Ont.

The winning team at the Innovation Nation Robotics Competition, from Oakville Trafalgar High School in Oakville, Ont., operate their robot on location in Huntsville, Ont., July 18. Team members Eric Atkinson and Evelyn Wainewright manipulate Xbox controllers while a crouching Nick Bandiera, operates another device. Courtesy Nick Whittaker/OTHS Robotics

The team, from Oakville, Ont., receives a first prize worth $5,000. The judges cited the team's overall presentation and the robot's commercial potential in arriving at their decision, according to Debra Vivian, communications director for the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation. The centre produced the competition.

Evelyn Wainewright, a student on the winning team, said that although they were competing against university teams, their robotics program does prepare them for this sort of thing and "we really focussed on what they were looking for."

"Ultimately it came down to the individual judging criteria, not necessarily robot vs. robot, because there were some very impressive robots there," she added.

Laurentian Univ., Abbey Park H.S. also winners

The other winning teams were from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont. and Abbey Park High School, also in Oakville.  Each team receives a prize worth $1,750.

Laurentian's robot, lunabot, is designed for mining on the moon and won NASA's lunabotics competition in May. Abbey Park designed a sonic guide wand for visually impaired people.

The winner's robot, named HANK (Harbinger of A New Kool), was originally designed  to compete in the 2011 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) international robotics competition. At FIRST, the robots competed in a game call logo motion in which the robots had to pick up round, square and triangular inner tubes from the playing surface and quickly place them on hooks at varying heights. The Oakville Trafalgar team placed 22nd in their international division at FIRST in April.

Team member Nick Bandiera won the Dean's List Award, named for FIRST founder, Dean Kamen, an inventor, at the event, held in St. Louis. That's the contest's highest individual award, and he was the only Canadian winner.

Robot HANK's commercial possibilities

Wainewright told CBC News that HANK could be easily modified for use in a hospital or warehouse setting. Its sensors mean it can follow paths in an automated warehouse and its elevator arm could easily include a forklift.

In a hospital Wainewright said the robot could be used for transporting materials, especially radioactive isotopes.