University of Auckland student? JOIN OUR TEAM!
We are a group of students from the University of Auckland, aiming to compete at the highest level in a number of robotics related areas, while supporting robotics in our community.
We compete in the University Division of the VEX Robotics Competition. In 2017 we competed in the VEX Robotics World Championship, where we became World Champions, adding to our awards from 2015 (Excellence Award, Robot Skills Champion, Programming Skills Champion). We also won the Community Award for our division, highlighting our volunteering and mentoring efforts back home in Auckland. We are part of the Kiwibots contingent of New Zealand high school and university teams. An international competition with participants from 40 countries including China, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Egypt, the UK, Australia and the US, the VEX Robotics Competition tests our understanding and ability to practically implement engineering concepts through a sports-inspired game.
More recently, AURA has become more and more involved with combat robotics. We applied to participate in the 2016 season of Battlebots, but were declined at the final stage of selections. Not to be discouraged, in August two members from AURA traveled to Canberra, Australia, where they were crowned RoboWars National Champions (and runner-up too!) after demolishing the competition. Following from the success in the 1.36 kg class in Australia, two of our members traveled to Guangzhou, China in August 2017 to fight their 15 kg robot “Dreamcrusher” against the best from across the World. After battling their way to the Grand Finals, they finished second place. AURA have also created the Mini Robot Rumble competition, with the first event in July 2017, where New Zealand school students fought 1.36 kg robots in a custom made arena.
In 2017 we sent a team to Queensland, Australia to race their fully autonomous, computer vision controlled droid. Our first time competing in such an event, the team improved throughout the event and we look forward to encouraging our club to be involved in future years to come.
We have also competed in the National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NI-ARC). A team of students representing the University travelled to Australia in September 2013. Featuring the use of the CompactRIO, NI-ARC requires robots to navigate a maze and complete a task fully autonomously.
In addition, we compete in New Zealand’s Robot Soccer competition, winning the competition in 2015 and reaching the semi-finals in 2016.
We compete in the RoboNZ competition, as a platform for our members to develop and trial new sensors, processors, and algorithms.
We mentor high school robotics teams and volunteer at local competitions. We mentor several high school robotics teams in the VEX Robotics Competition, and help run the monthly scrimmages and national championships. Additionally we volunteer at FIRST Lego League (FLL) competitions in the Auckland region.
For all enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
In April 2017, with the generous support of the University of Auckland and Motion Design, AURA sent six members to Louisville, Kentucky, to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship. The largest robotics competition in the world, this saw over 1,400 teams from more than 30 countries gather together, to crown a world champion. The 62 university teams were split between two divisions, with the champions of each facing off to determine who would be crowned World Champions.
In this year’s game, robots faced off in a 1v1 format on a 4 metre x 4 metre square field, split down the middle by a 0.5-metre-tall fence. The objective of the game was to toss “stars” and “cubes” over the fence to gain points, in a fast-paced game described as “like volleyball, only with 28 objects”.
AURA finished the qualification matches with 7 convincing wins and only a single defeat, placing our team second heading into the Elimination playoffs. From there we faced teams from Michigan and New York, which we both defeated, landing us in our division finals against a team from Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans kept pace with their fast and aggressive strategy, however we took a 2-1 win over them to secure our spot in the Grand Finals.
With a 20,000-person audience and many more on the live stream, we were up against team IFR from Florida in the finals. Our 45 second autonomous routine put us in good stead leading into the second halves of the games, where we simply needed to defend our lead. IFR’s fast short-bursts of scoring were effective against our robot, but our greater capacity was able to overwhelm the Florida team. They changed tactics in the second game, employing a strategy to starve us of objects and use their speed in the final 30 seconds to their advantage, however we pulled off a win despite some technical difficulties in the dying seconds, and for the first time became World Tournament Champions.
In the Skills Challenges, AURA pulled off a great 65 points in Driver Skills, but due to slipping by no more than 2 millimetres, lost 8 points on our high hang in Programming Skills. With those 8 points, we would have become university world champions in the Skills Challenges once again, however with the scores being so tight among the top teams, the 8 points we lost dropped us into third place.
Described as “the most winningest team” by VEX organisers and commentators, the Auckland University Robotics Association is now the first and only team out of over 18,000 globally to have won every major world title. Having been in the world finals twice previously (2012 and 2015), we were particularly pleased to have finally broken past second place and claim the champions’ trophy.
Our thanks go to the University of Auckland and Motion Design, for their generous support in assisting our expenses towards this trip. Without their help, this competition would have been much more challenging for our team to fund.
Videos of the two finals games can be seen here:
A video presenting our World Championship robots can be seen here:
A one hour CBS Sports Spectacular of the 2017 VEX Worlds can be seen here:
Full results from the competition can be found on VexDB here.
Another year, another successful VEX Nationals.
Last weekend, a few dozen volunteers, 70 high school teams and hundreds of students, staff and parents took over the Massey University Recreation Centre in Albany for the annual national competition.
This is the event many teams have been working all year towards, attending the scrimmages supported by our dedicated AURA volunteers, spending time with AURA mentors and pouring their creative efforts into their robots.
AURA provided the bulk of the volunteering force, with over 20 volunteers working over the four days ensuring the competition ran smoothly. It was great to see both some of our graduate members taking time away from lawyering and engineering to volunteer, and some of our incoming undergraduate members giving back to the competitive community they’ve been part of for so long. With new members like these, AURA will continue to be a powerhouse for both volunteering and competition efforts for years to come.
While all of our volunteers did a fantastic job, special commendations must be given to:
Jess Chase, our Volunteer Officer, who was officially recognised as the Volunteer of the Year, and who organised all of the volunteers for this years competition.
Nathan Allen, whose technical expertise and competition software integration efforts made all of our efforts so much more efficient.
Rui Wen, for his help in communicating with visiting Chinese teams.
George Gillard, who was on the organising committee for nationals.
We’re happy that so many great high school teams will be joining us this year when we travel to the VEX Robotics World Championships this April in Louisville, Kentucky. Hopefully, we will continue New Zealand’s outstanding performance and bring home another stack of trophies in both the High School and University division.
As a competitive robotics club, AURA always gets asked “Do you building fighting robots??”. Usually the answer is no, however late last year we had the opportunity to design a Battlebot and apply to be on the rebooted ABC show.
The robot we designed, Mango is a ring spinner. Mango would have weighed 115kg, and the outer ring would have spun at 600rpm!
Unfortunately our application was rejected in the final stage of selection due to there being too many similar designs, so for the moment Mango is still only on paper. But we ended up with a lot of design experience, and some awesome looking renders!
We are already thinking about our 2017 submission and working on smaller scale combat robots, so we have exciting news regarding combat robotics to come soon.
Thanks Robogals Auckland for inviting us to an awesome robotics workshop at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School. Lots of our members turned out to assist the Robogals, so the kids could have a great time learning with Lego Mindstorms robot kits.
Thank you to Robogals president Sweta and to our volunteers: Oliver, Jack, Jess, Barney, Ellen and Karan.
Check out the Robogals’ Facebook page here: