UBCO hosts sumo robot competition for elementary and middle school students

Sumo wrestling robots

Two-hundred students filled the common room of UBC Okanagan Wednesday morning for the ninth annual Sumo Robot Competition.

The event brought 80 different student-built robots together for a battle for the title of Kelowna's best robot.

“We’ve got over 12 schools here, students from grade 4 all the way to Grade 9," said organizer Tobias Blaskovits.

"It’s really just an exciting intro, get kids excited about coding and robotics, the element of competition, trying to outperform, coming up with a strategy and having their robot do the best it can in the ring."

The students have spent weeks to months working on their robots, and they need to be completely autonomous once they enter the ring — completely operational without the use of a remote control.

A number of students are first timers while many return, bringing with them the knowledge they gained from participating in the sumo robot competition in years past.

“They realize that heavier is better, more traction is better, maybe they employ a scoop or some sort of mechanism to try and push their opponent out of the ring. Some have gears, they’ll bring in gearing for their robots, just a whole bunch of different strategies,” said Blaskovits.

Returning as the 2023 sumo robot champion, a student and his new teammate entered the competition hoping to repeat as winners, adding a few key upgrades to their robot.

“He did a really good job building this robot… It fits very nicely and the weight is perfect for the coding that we’ve done, so it’s a really good robot,” said grade eight student Cooper Hazen out of H.S. Grenda Middle School.

“We got gears to make it more powerful. Gives it a lot more torque and has the torque advantage in the battles," said teammate Gavin Lipinski

"A lot of people have scoops underneath, so we made walls so that they can’t take out our wheels or anything," Hazen continued.

"We put holes in the back so that the wheels would fit, and then we have our ultrasonic sensor in the front to sense the other people and a little ramp to protect the front.”

At the end of the competition, four winners were crowned, along with the solo winner of the sumo bot battle royale.

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