RoboHvar? Robots Compete on the Riva in Vrboska!

A poster attracted our attention a couple of days ago. “Presentation of Robotics” on the Riva in Vrboska. Intrigued we sauntered down to the waterfront (Riva in Croatian) and wintessed a fun spectacle.



There was a bunch of enthusiastic primary and secondary school kids crowded around a bunch of machines.

It turns out Croatia is the world champion in school robotic football (nogomet, or soccer for our US friends). This year in China they won the football competition, and also brought home silver medals for three other disciplines. The best student roboticists from around Croatia were put up at a local hotel, and took part in a multi day workshop with kids from local schools.

There was robotic football where two autonomous robots try to score goals against each other. There was robo-drawing with drawings for sale, and there was the Robotic Alka.

What on earth is the Alka you may well ask. Three hundred years ago the Turkish armies tried to take the city of Sinj, and despite being vastly more numerous were repelled and defeated by determined defenders. So every year since 1715 the city of Sinj holds a comemorative competition where horseriders in period costumes galloping at full speed, try to jab a lance into a small ring (or “alka”) hanging high in the air. The Sinjska Alka is now on the UNESCO world hertitage list.

The Robotic Alka is on an altogether smaller scale and in a more sedate pace, but just as competitive. Drivers using a remote control drive a small electric vehicle equipped with a lance.

What a memory for the kids! I loved to overhear one little guy asking the teacher: “Sir, sir, when can I sign up for robotics?”

Some links:

Croatian Robotic Association, (in English)

Jelsa Primary School, Robotics Workshop (in Croatian)

Wikipedia article on the Sinj Alka (in English)