World Robotics League®, an initiative of vNEXT laboratories, is a Robotics Competitive program available to participants of all ages and skill levels. The focus of World Robotics League® is based purely on Technical Merit and Provable Excellence from Participants. Advancement of a participant to any of the level is determined solely on proven solid foundation of skills in design, programing and process planning for various automated and semi-automated Robotic systems.
WRL competitive robotics goes beyond 2D environment. The robots need to venture into 3D terrains, unknown environment where environment perception is done with the help of sensors and cameras. WRL also includes underwater and aerial robotics. Many WRL challenges incorporate industrial elements such as warehouse sorting and material handling, pick and assemble, material reconfiguration, etc.
WRL was started by Industry professionals recognized for their research and contribution in the field of Robotics and Automation. The founding members are known for guiding teams to excel in various categories of competitive Robotics and advancing to World Championships. They also one of the best-selling authors in competitive Robotics.
WRL is not restricted by any programming platform or structural and functional platform. A participant can use any platform, additionally they can design, machine and 3D print their own parts. The only restrictions on participation are based on age and grade levels to ensure fairness. Some examples include:
Programming platform : Lego NXT, EV3, spike prime; Arduino, Raspberry pi, Beagleboard etc.
Structural and functional Platform: Lego Technic, GoBilda, Servocity, Rev Robotics etc.
WRL is open to anyone who likes to build, invent and experiment. We have three main categories by grades : 2-5, 6-8 and 8-12, then we have additional category for anybody 18+ year or older. The competitions are offered in Autonomous, Remote Controlled and Combination of Autonomous and Remote controlled modes
WRL season runs throughout the year. Preliminary challenges are offered every 4-6 weeks. Scores in the preliminary challenges determines advancement to the next round also known as competitive round. Competitive rounds are organized at the end of the calendar year. The teams participate in competitive round to advance to the World Championships Round.
During the preliminary challenges team must maintain a minimum score of 30%. This qualifies the teams to patriciate in the competitive round. During the competitive round, competing teams are ranked based on performance. At each level top 10 % teams advance to quarter-finals, semi-finals and eventually to finals.
We believe that the key drivers of STEM education should be the real life application of classroom learning as well as training the students to think like entrepreneurs. Thus, we believe that to provide a real life perspective, significant part of training and classroom learning should be aimed at subjects such as science and math. World Robotics League provides a variety of opportunities to apply classroom learning in life scenarios.
Additionally participants get an opportunity to look at the principles learnt in class from multiple angles via Experimentation, Exploration and Invention. WRL serves as the resources to meet the end goal of the learning.
One of the key differentiators for World Robotics League is that the challenges are offered on a regular basis, every 4-6 weeks. The challenges are offered in the order of increasing complexity are able to build on previous experience. WRL ensures that participants are able to explore multiple skills and the principles of applied sciences. The team sizes are restricted to a maximum of 4 students so that every participant has equal opportunity to learn and explore.
As experienced coaches and teachers, our observation has been that many STEM initiatives provide just a taste of robotics and thus fail to generate significant interest from participants. Additionally, in STEM fields, in real life, progression is easily quantifiable because most means of measuring progress are very objective. Unfortunately, some of the competitions adhere to loosely defined criteria which allow teams with sub-par technical skills to progress which affects the morale of teams with very strong technical acumen.
Finally, in our experience team sizes greater than 4 students provide extremely uneven opportunities for participants to engage in an effective manner. While teamwork and work distribution is extremely important, we have observed many coaches end up drawing very strict boundaries around responsibilities and tasks for the participating members. As an example, often, some participants only get to manage the process of the team instead of actually participating in the robotics under the guise of being the team coordinator. At WRL, we believe that pushing this kind of corporate mindset early on, deprives many participants from exploring various facets of their available skillset. At WRL we believe that during K-12 phase of learning, every participant should be provided the opportunities to learn, test and explore all aspects of the respective disciplines. WRL Challenges are designed to align with small team structures and all participants getting equal opportunity.
For Adult participants, we have observed that most of the competitions available usually are the fighter bots where programming and finer nuances of robotics are relegated as a lower priority. We strive to provide a competitive platform for any adult with the technical excellence and a desire to experiment and innovate.
It is very important to ensure that all the coaches who are guiding the participants and the referees who are evaluating the students are well trained and qualified via a systematic process. Although we appreciate the spirit of volunteers and willingness of individuals to help and inspire young generation, without appropriate training and vetting the qualifications of coaches and referees, it would be impractical to expect a consistent outcome for all participants. At WRL, we believe that every team and coach should follow a minimum standard to ensure that all participants come out with a positive experience and attain uniform coaching and learnings.
WRL is primarily focused on ensuring that participants acquire real life technical and leadership skills needed to create the next generation of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Thus, our focus is primarily on acquiring new skills, managing resources and time, doing more with less and innovating. In other words, WRL encourages entrepreneurial way of working. Most of the challenges in WRL derive from real life issues and hence they provide participants the training needed to be better prepared when they venture into the world.
As a competitive platform, WRL provides the participants an opportunity to play against opponents with varying level of skills and hence learn and master a range of strategies. While there is emphasis on teamwork and behavior, WRL primarily focuses on technical abilities. We want to ensure that participants learn that their efforts, in general, define how well they meet their end goals and that by managing the engineering process well, they can quantify and consistently improve the outcome.