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Students build green robots to clean up trash, hug trees

Winners of the competition.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Kevin Nguyen and Leo Palacios of Hueneme High School, pose with their trophy and team robot after winning the 1st annual OUHSD Green Robotics Competition. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD

On May 21st, Hueneme High School hosted the 1st annual OUHSD Green Robotics Competition (GRC). This year’s competition was an answer to a common problem on all high school campuses, litter. After lunch there is trash all over the ground. The custodians do a great job of cleaning it up, but it takes time to clean up every day and they have better things to do. The students were asked to design and program an autonomous robot to collect the trash and put it in piles that the custodians can easily pickup. Extra points were available if the robots separated the trash from the recycling.

All area schools were invited; students could use any type of robot from the Lego NXT robots to homemade designs. The students at Hueneme were taught the basics of programming the robots and designing the physical part of the robot in class. It was up to them to finish their design on their own and change the program to meet the three phases of the competition: cement, dirt, and grass.

The day of the competition was full of excitement and trepidation. All teams got perfect or near perfect scores on the cement portion. Then they went to dirt. The dirt was more challenging than the students expected. Even the team whose forklift design was geared specifically to counter the rugged environment and high cement sides struggled to remove even a single piece of trash from the area. Moving to the grass, the second place team was only five points behind the first. It had all came down to this. Each robot had initial successes, but the grass would not let go of her trash so easily. In the end the first place team maintained their narrow margin and Hueneme High School took home the trophy. The team of Kevin Nguyen and Leo Palacios, both Engineering Academy students, won the trophy and Solar Fun Kits with their creative design and simple programming.

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