Auckland robot whiz kids shine on world stage

The robotic revolution has given us self-driving cars and many more automated machines, but few might have predicted it would also provide us with sporting opportunities.

Thousands of school students from across the globe have descended on Louisville, Kentucky for the World Robotics Championships.

The Onehunga High School team are one of four Kiwi schools competing. They're aiming to uphold a strong reputation, having previously won in 2012 with a different group of students.

"We do have that legacy, but it's not really us," says student Eliot Soffe.

This group is looking to make their own mark. They've spent hundreds of hours after school in the past few months building their robot, which can switch between autonomous and hand controlled, uses a claw mechanism to pick things up and has wheels which move in all directions.

It took a lot of trial and error.

"I think every system we've rebuilt once or twice because we didn't get it right the first time," says Eliot.

The aim of the game is to direct the robot to pick up and place cones in specific zones with points allocated depending on the difficulty of the zone.

It's not as easy nor simple as it might sound, especially at the World Championships.

"Everyone here is performing well, so it's as much about trying to stop the other team as it is about focusing on your own play," says Onehunga High School student Matthew Moran.

Four robots clamouring into each other in a small pen makes for entertaining viewing for spectators, and a tense few minutes for the team.

One team member drives, another coaches and directs the driver and another keeps time as each game is just two and a half minutes long.

Onehunga led the way for the Kiwis finishing at the quarter final stage, while their second team won the best sportsmanship award.

But perhaps more importantly, it's opened up potential futures for these Year 13 students.

"I'm thinking about going to Auckland University because I joined robotics," says Louise Cleland.

In this new world of mass automation, opportunities shouldn't be hard to come by.