Overtaking the opposition at the biggest ever Robotraffic competition

The results at this year’s Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition at the Technion are dominated by teams from schools in, or affiliated to, the World ORT network.

The seventh annual competition was the biggest ever with 1,000 students in 60 teams from six countries, including, for the first time, Mexico’s CIM-ORT.

But the attraction of more competitors has not loosened World ORT and affiliated schools’ grip on the leaders’ board – 13 of the top three places in each of the competition’s six categories went to, or was shared with, an affiliated school or one in the network. Those coming first were ORT Odessa (Careful Driving), ORT Argentina (Advanced Careful Driving), and Misgav High School (Traffic Safety Initiatives and Solid Car Construction).

A strong indicator of the reason for their success lay in the four special Robotraffic prizes to educators for their contribution to robotics education. Two of the recipients were Igor Kot of ORT Odessa and Sergey Dzuba of ORT Kiev, and the other two, Lior Keren and Haim Dribin teach at the affiliated Misgav High School in Israel.

Everyone’s a winner

Ultimately, though, all the entrants are winners.

“It’s a great tool for education from many perspectives – technology, friendship, learning about other cultures,” said Professor Moshe Shoham, Head of the Technion’s National Centre for Robotics.

 

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The aim of Robotraffic is to provide students with knowledge and skills in robotics and safe driving. The competition involves putting small programmed robotic cars on a track where they have to deal with simulated road conditions. The competition is a partnership between the Technion, World ORT and its operational arm in Israel, World ORT Kadima Mada, and the World Zionist Organisation in cooperation with the YTEK Foundation and Eytam Robotics.

World ORT Kadima Mada Pedagogical Coordinator Shmuel Cohen watched the students prepare for the finals.

“You see their enthusiasm in the way they try to solve problems and in the way they discuss problems with each other. You see them really thinking. And when the competition is underway and teams start to win points the students can barely contain their excitement and joy,” he said.

A 2,000% growth in seven years

 
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Robotraffic started seven years ago with just five Israeli schools. Now, 20 times that number, from America to Russia, run Robotraffic programmes even if not all of them make it to the finals at the Technion.

“The competition is evolving very nicely. We now have elementary and middle schools taking part as well as high schools. Every year we have more teams coming to the Technion and we look forward to welcoming even more in the years to come,” Professor Shoham said.

Remembering Nadav

This year is the first time the competition has been run in the name of Professor Shoham’s son, Nadav, who died in a blizzard in Nepal in 2014.

Nadav, a graduate engineering student at the Technion, loved to watch the competition and made sure to visit it every year, his father said.

“He was excited by the work of children from Israel and abroad, their ability to build complex systems and the expression of their creativity,” Professor Shoham said.

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