Thursday, 22 December 2022

Mecha Penguins: Young Istrian Roboticists Attract Cash With Campaign

December the 22nd, 2022 - Mecha Penguins (Pingvini), a group of young roboticists from the Istrian peninsula, have managed to attract a large sum of cash in the form of investment following their successful campaign.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a team of young Istrian roboticists "Mecha Penguins" came together to design the project entitled "BUZET - reSTART siSTEma" and with the help of their mentors, the Vazmoslav Grzalja Elementary School and the Pozitron Centre from Vizinada, they launched a fundraising campaign to equip their school with modern equipment for performing STEAM activities.

The response to Mecha Penguins' campaign was excellent, with a total of 105,212 kuna having been collected, with which 25 robotic sets from the LEGO Education programme and ten laptops were purchased, reports Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

During the handover of the equipment, the principal, Jadranka Bartolic Muzica, thanked everyone who helped the Buzet elementary school enter the STEAM area in style. The primary goals of the "BUZET - reSTART siSTEMa" project were the procurement of robotic equipment and teacher education in order to introduce STEAM extracurricular activities for students of this school in Buzet, as well as regional schools in Lanisce, Roc and Vrh. The campaign was launched back at the beginning of October by sending requests to business entities and an online crowdfunding campaign for individuals.

The "Mecha Penguins" team consists of ten students from the Vazmoslav Grzalja school in Buzet, namely David Greblo, Emil Luka Ladovic, Dora Majer, Fran Crnac, Heli Savko, Lana Krbavcic Ratosa, Linda Kert, Marin Rehak, Marko Marusic and Mia Majcan, who are all preparing to participate in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge (FLL) project/robotic competition.

The competition will be held in February next year, organised by the Croatian Robotics Association, in Zagreb at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. It is the largest global robotics competition that was founded back in 1998 in the USA, while it has been being held here in Europe since 2001. The number of participants in the FLL programme grows every year, and today it connects more than 110 countries of the world in which more than 340,000 children participate in 40,000 teams.

"There are no words to thank everyone who helped our project in any way", said the members of the Mecha Penguins team which participated in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge as one of the two teams of the "Pozitron - Centre for Technological Development" and STEM education" from Vizinada.

"We sent requests for support for our project to numerous addresses of local enterprises, as well as more widely. At the same time, we launched a crowdfunding campaign for individuals on the GoGetFunding web platform, and we collected the funds carry out the LEGO Education STEAM programme. A total of 84,135 kuna was set aside for the donated equipment, and the rest will be invested in the education of the teachers who will implement the STEAM programme at the school.

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Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Zagreb Company Stemi Encouraging Kids to Develop Robots and Chatbots

October the 4th, 2022 - The Zagreb company Stemi, which is engaged in the development of software, wants children to learn how to develop robots and chatbots in school as skills which are more relevant for the rapidly altering times we're living in.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, a couple of years ago, the Zagreb company Stemi launched the "School of the Future/Skola buducnosti" project in Croatian schools, through which elementary and high school students can work to acquire the technological knowledge of the future, that of robotics, artificial intelligence (EI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

So far, more than 350 teachers and two thousand students have participated in their project, equal to every tenth school in the Republic of Croatia. The initiators of the project now want this project to come to life in every fifth school, 220 of them. With this goal, together with their partners Infobip and A1 Hrvatska/Croatia, they launched a group financing campaign "Build the school of the future/Izgradi skolu buducnosti", during which they plan to raise a grand total of one million kuna.

In this way, all those who want their children to acquire the technological knowledge and skills of the future from an early age now have the opportunity to influence changes in the Croatian education system. They can change things in this country's often-criticised education system precisely through showing their support to the Zagreb company Stemi's praiseworthy campaign.

Marin Troselj, the initiator of the project and director of the Zagreb company Stemi, explained that their goal is to expand the bridge between schools and our technology industry. "We want to bring knowledge and practice from our best technology companies to every fifth school in Croatia and thus turn them into schools of the future," he pointed out.

This truly innovative and valuable project, in which around 750 thousand euros have been invested so far, has advantages for both students and teachers. Through technological challenges, students can gain some of the most sought-after knowledge on the market, and through teamwork and project work, they'll develop key soft skills for a successful career in the technology industry. The teachers, on the other hand, are also educated about new technologies, and using an innovative educational platform significantly facilitates the preparation and implementation of classes.

Slobodan Velikic, Stemi's business development director, announced that soon, both students and teachers will be able to talk with their colleagues from other countries who are also participating in their programmes. This will be possible because the School of the Future also starts across the pond over in the USA and closer to home in Europe in Great Britain this year.

"Students need to start preparing for the jobs of the future in their classrooms, where they will definitely have to work in an international environment, and through practical work, they'll improve the local community with their projects," said Velikic.

Until this year, through the School of the Future project, students learned about artificial intelligence through the development of chatbots, i.e. computer programmes that can talk to people using natural language. This year, the programme will be enriched with two new ones - robotics and the Internet of Things. Students will thus learn how to make a walking robot for Mars exploration, but also how to grow their own food and how to manage production with the help of technology.

In addition to transferring the technological knowledge of the future, the School of the Future project is also of great value because it popularises STEM fields.

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Sunday, 5 June 2022

Croatians Win 4 Golds at Euro RoboCup in Portugal

ZAGREB, 5 June 2022 - Young Croatian participants, who competed in the Euro RoboCup in Portugal from 1 to 4 June, became the champions in four categories, and also won two silvers and one bronze.

A total of 14 teams with 37 competitors from Croatia attended the competition in the city of Guimarães at the 3rd Euro Robo Cup.

The golds went to 'Školska knjiga CRO team' -in the Rescue Line category;  to 'DataCro team' in the  Soccer Entry; 'HROBOS CRO team' u in the Rescue Simulation SuperTeams; and the 'Power Splitters' in  the On Stage Preliminary.

The Croatian competitors come from elementary and secondary schools in Varaždin, Zagreb, Velika Gorica, Split, Dubrovnik and Brač.

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Friday, 19 November 2021

Lastovo Underwater Robot to Help Children Explore What Lies Beneath

November the 19th, 2021 - The new Lastovo underwater robot is set to aid children in exploring what lies beneath the surface of the sparkling Croatian Adriatic sea. 

As Morski writes, the Lastovo Elementary School is now richer for an underwater robot with which children will collect valuable information about the marine environment and thus become real little scientists. From this week on, the younger residents of this protected area will have the opportunity to explore their marine and coastal environment and record the changes they see over time, thanks to the project "Civic Science: Measurements and Observations of the Sea".

''Senegalese scientist Baba Dium once said that in the end we'll preserve only what we love, love only what we understand, and we'll understand only what we've been taught. WWF felt that this project was at the core of that thought, so we decided to participate in it in a partnership. Children learn much faster than adults do, and they'll inherit this sea in which our traditions and heritage are deeply anchored,'' said Mosor Prvan, head of the marine programme at WWF Adria.

This project also builds technological literacy and prepares children for 21st century occupations in science and technology.

''This Lastovo underwater robot has the ability to dive to a depth of 100 metres and work for up to almost two hours at a time. The robot is controlled by a mobile phone, can record videos and photos, and comes with a robotic arm that can take samples for research purposes. In addition to the Lastovo underwater robot, we also donated a 3D printer to the school to further interest them in STEM technologies, and encourage children to creatively and independently create various models and shapes with this modern technology,'' emphasised Paolo Zenzerovic, the project manager at IRIM.

In addition to collecting valuable data from the marine world surrounding Lastovo, this experience will build a sense of responsibility towards the sea in young children and create a generation of future citizens aware of the importance of preserving and quality management of the marine environment.

While we all declaratively love the sea, looking at the negative changes happening is a question of how much we truly understand what's going on. Through this project, children will have the opportunity to see and understand the consequences of our activities in the Croatian Adriatic. It will give them the opportunity to, through understanding the changes that are taking place, better get to grips with sustainable sea management, love it even more and preserve it in a far better manner than we were able to,'' concluded Prvan.

The project "Civil Science: Measurements and Observations of the Sea" which is providing the Lastovo underwater robot is implemented by IRIM - Croatian Makers, the European Centre Wergeland (EWC) from Norway, WWF Adria and HGSS (Croatian Mountain Rescue Service).

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Thursday, 5 August 2021

Deutsche Bahn Group Becomes Investor in Croatian Gideon Brothers

August the 5th, 2021 - The Croatian Gideon Brothers company specialises in robotics and has gained more and more attention of late. The company's latest foreign investor is no less than the well known Deutsche Bahn Group.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the Croatian Gideon Brothers company, which deals with robotics and software solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), recently announced an investment from Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV), a venture capital subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn Group, as part of a 32 million US dollars Series A funding round.

“Gideon Brothers is developing products that change the rules of the game, and they've proven they have significant growth and market interest. We believe that the future of mobile robotics will be determined by autonomy based on AI and 3D robotic vision, and we're very pleased to welcome the Croatian Gideon Brothers company as one of the companies in our portfolio,'' said Boris Kühn, CEO of DB Digital Ventures.

The Series A Edition

Series A was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies with the participation of DB Schenker, Prologis Ventures and Rite-Hit. This round of financing was joined by some of the existing shareholders of Gideon Brothers who were among the first investors: TransferWise (now Wise) co-founder Taavet Hinrikus, Pentland Ventures, Peaksjah, HCVC (HardwareClub), Ivan Topcic, Nenad Bakic and Luca Ascani.

According to the Croatian Gideon Brothers company, the recapitalisation of the A-Series will accelerate the development and commercialisation of the company's autonomous mobile robots (AMR) that automate horizontal and vertical material handling.

They also plan to expand to Germany in the City of Munich and to the US in Boston where they will open offices and expand the operations of the Production, Sales, Marketing and Customer Success departments in key markets of the European Union and the USA.

Gideon Brothers specialises in the flexible automation of horizontal and vertical material handling operations in unstructured, human-operated warehousing, manufacturing and retail environments.

With their advanced mobile robots and comprehensive software solutions for autonomous indoor and outdoor operations, they work to help companies solve the most complex supply chain challenges of today: growing customer expectations, increased product variability and growth in logistics volumes, increasingly diverse distribution channels, and labour shortages in particular.

The increase of efficiency

As they point out, the autonomous mobile robots (AMR) made by the Croatian Gideon Brothers company increase efficiency and productivity by taking on low value-added operations, such as transporting, retrieving or the disposing of products, so that employees can engage in more complex tasks.

They say that with advanced Gideon Brothers technology, real collaboration between humans and robots is finally becoming possible and opening up more and more new opportunities for growth.

“The growing demand for smart automation solutions confirms the belief that autonomous robots are an indispensable tool for building sustainable growth. We're extremely pleased to have the opportunity to build partnerships with innovation leaders who share our vision - creating new synergies that bring real collaboration between humans and autonomous robotic vehicles powered by our next-generation technology,'' said Matija Kopic, the CEO of Gideon Brothers.

To briefly recall, this successful Croatian company recently entered into a partnership with Vector Conveyors from Spain, which was their first distributor for the Spanish market.

They explained that the partnership is part of their sales strategy that includes direct sales channels to key customers and indirect sales channels, by expanding the network of distributors through which they will offer their products, services, technical support and system integration.

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

CRTA Zagreb: Regional Centre of Excellence for Robotic Technologies Opens

July the 1st, 2021 - The Regional Centre of Excellence for Robotic Technologies, CRTA Zagreb, has opened in the Croatian capital, more specifically at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture.

As Iva Badanjak/Novac writes, CRTA Zagreb's grand opening took place with the participation of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, University Rector Damir Boras and numerous other government officials.

The new facility will position itself as a regional reference centre for research, development and education in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and a unique scientific and technological infrastructure in Southeastern Europe.

CRTA Zagreb consists of three laboratories for medical robotics, computer intelligence and an autonomous system, two student practicums, a toolbox and a space for researchers. The centre is intended for students in teaching, then scientific research projects and finally for various business people. One of the most important goals of the CRTA Zagreb will be to promote robotics in everyday life, as a branch of technology that can save people time, conducting simple tasks for them so that they have more time for other activities.

It also wants to attract researchers and research institutions from Croatia's immediate region and Europe and thus increase the scientific potential of the Zagreb FSB in this particular area. This will certainly be helped by the fact that for the needs of the development of medical robotics, a fully equipped operating room has been built, which enables the conduct of pre-clinical trials in real conditions.

Before visiting CRTA Zagreb, the project leader, Professor Bojan Jerbic, briefly presented the development and possibilities of the brand new facility, pointing out that the project started way back in 2005 and was primarily focused on cognitive robotics and the method of learning, ie how to teach robots by demonstration.

In 2016, the first robotic neurosurgical operation in Croatia was performed with the medical robot RONNA. RONNA experienced the 4th generation in 2018, won numerous awards in the category of best innovation and performed operations regularly until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the goal is for RONNA to grow from a project to a startup and be offered to the rest of the world.

"We're pleased that the most modern centre for robotic technologies has been opened within our Zagreb Faculty. This proves our commitment to knowledge, innovation and development and makes us leaders in the technological revolution here in Croatia and the immediate region. Centres of excellence and research generate innovation for both the economy and society and they make everything more advanced and successful, so I believe that CRTA Zagreb will bring together numerous teams of scientists from the region and Europe and witness numerous pioneering solutions and technological products that will improve industry and medicine, but also Croatian society as a whole,'' said Jerbic.

The construction of a modernly equipped space, which covers 740 m2, began back in pre-pandemic 2019. The centre is located in the eastern building of the FSB, in the former laboratory for the development of HRT films. The CRTA project is estimated at almost 38 million kuna, and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the amount of almost 37 million kuna.

The dean of the FSB, Dubravko Majetic, said that CRTA Zagreb was officially opened on Monday and that they were expecting new students to enroll in a few days at the first university study of mechatronics and robotics. The initial quota of 60 students has already been filled.

The Rector of the University of Zagreb pointed out that CRTA is a top world project and "our future in scientific, educational and economic terms".

The Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, emphasised the importance of investing in science, which is a public good and the key to achieving personal, social and economic success.

"The success of the FSB proves that Croatia has great scientists and innovators and that we're making great progress in the field of innovation, and the role of the state is to support that growth and development, so the goal is to invest 3 percent of GDP in science, education and excellence,'' Plenkovic said.

CRTA Zagreb is also open to the public, as a place to spread technical and robotic culture, primarily for high school and elementary school students, but also for everyone else who is interested in the latest technologies that are changing the future of business and lifestyle as well know them.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

In-No-Plastic: Krk Beaches to be Cleaned by Robots as Part of EU Project

May the 19th, 2021 - Krk beaches are set to get a helping hand thanks to a European Union project which aims to tackle the issue of plastic and waste, artificial intelligence and the ever-interesting world of robots. 

As Morski/Dejan Kosic writes, in accordance with the strategic commitment aimed at preserving the environment and sustainable development, Ponikve is continuously launching various projects with this aim firmly in mind. Among other things, about a decade or so ago they launched a very well-received project called "Blue Bag/Plava Vreca", and now they are involved in another European Union project called "In-No-Plastic".

It is an innovative approach to the prevention of dumping, the disposal and reuse of marine plastic waste, and the project was launched on October the 1st last year, lasting until September the 30th, 2023. It involves seventeen partners from the European Union, all of whom are interested in reducing the negative impact of plastics on the sea and in the environment in general.

The goal of the project is to develop an efficient and automated solution to prevent wastewater and rainwater pollution by micro and macro plastics that, ultimately, ends up in the seas and oceans and returns to our tables within the food chain.

The total funds provided for this project amount to 7.4 million euros, and the budget proposal for Ponikve eco island of Krk is a little more than 308 thousand euros, of which 70 percent will be withdrawn from a European Union programme called "Horizon 2020", and the rest will be provided by Ponikve. In addition to Ponikve eco island Krk, two other Croatian partners are working on the project, Probotica from Zagreb and Sensum from Rijeka.

As part of this project, selected Krk beaches and bays will have macro plastics removed using innovative automated processes, more precisely - robots. The plastic thus collected along Krk beaches will be processed and useful new items will be made from it.

During the project, environmental cleaning campaigns will be organised using a special mobile application (app). In addition, seven-week demonstrations of the 3D printing of the collected waste from Krk beaches will be held every year at various locations across the island.

In Ponikve, they hope that this project will also be met with a good response from residents and other citizens, whose involvement will contribute to the success of the planned activities.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

First Croatian Humanoid Robot Developed by MVT Solutions - Meet KAI

KAI, or when referred to by its full name ''Knowledge And Innovation'' is the very first Croatian humanoid robot, and just like you and I, it has arms, legs, a body and a head.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 21st of October, 2019, KAI, manufactured and marketed by MVT Solutions, a startup based in Pisarovina, a place not far from Zagreb, is quite unlike any Croatian-made robot to date.

The appearance of the KAI robot can be printed on any 3D printer, its software can be customised as desired, since the system it was built on is used as "open source" and sensors can be added to it as and when a person wishes.

The Croatian startup MVT Solutions, has after three years of development fully prepared itself for mass production with ready-made versions of KAI robots. In addition, they also sell IoT cloud subscriptions, which provide other applications for their hardware. Ivan Golubić, the co-founder of MVT Solutions modestly says that the incredible KAI robot was created by the community.

"There are various open-source models and robot geometries that have been transformed into an educational robot with the help of the community, students, etc. The KAI robot consists of 4 motors, 3D printed elements, sensors and an IoTaaP Magnolia board, and users can 3D print it themselves, or order it,'' says Golubić, pointing out that they plan to sell several hundred KAI robots by the end of the year.

However, behind this little robot is a big business story indeed. The Croatian startup MVT Solutions first made its public appearance a mere two years ago when it launched the first Croatian smart Grunner X electric bike, which was later tested out by no less than the police force in Dubai.

In the meantime, it has developed several more products and has attracted the interest of a number of sound industry names. MVT Solutions is a specialist in the development of Internet of Things (IoT) systems. It offers development and prototyping services for IoT products for others, and has also developed its own so-called IoTaaP platform. The Croatian company's IoT platform drives both the KAI robot and the impressive Grunner X bike. It is hardly surprising that this innovative company has come under the radar of investors over the last couple of years.

Just two years ago, this startup was among the winners of the Zicer Accelerator Startup Factory, last year it was selected as the best IoT startup in the region as part of the EIT InnoEnergy PowerUp competition, and earlier this year, it found itself among the top 20 startups of choice by the business angel community in Norway.

"The hardware part of our IoT platform enables rapid development and Plug & Play mode with our cloud, and the cloud itself provides us with incredible scalability, both for clients and for investors," explains Golubić.

As has since been learned, now this Croatian company's first investment is on the horizon, which will enable the company to hire 20 more experts in the next year.

"We're currently closing an investment round that will raise the company's valuation to several million kuna, thereby opening up space for new clients, employees, and for a longer period new investments," explains Golubić. For now, he didn't want to talk about the investment in too much detail. He explains that their goal is to do an IPO in the next five to seven years, and they have already received community support in this. They were supported by experienced IT managers Dražen Pehar, and Vedran Blagus in their ongoing business development.

"I know it is long-term, but we have some firmly defined goals and I think that with my current 23 years, I still have an incredible amount of time for new business ventures and projects, so I can definitely say that we tend to become a leader in the IoT industry," says Golubić.

With the amazing little KAI robot, he explains, they are ready to begin mass production of their IoT devices. The first Croatian humanoid robot will, in addition to educating young and new IoT experts, also open space for them to embark on further pilot projects with their IoT platform.

"Over the next month, we'll launch pilot projects based on our IoT platform, with the first gas bottle delivery system providing up to 30% savings to distributors," says Golubić. The focus of the pilot is in Poland. MVT Solutions explains that this is a market with great potential in retail gas, and there are almost five million end users using gas from bottles. Another major project, he says, is related to Industry 4.0 in one of Croatia's factories, but he stopped there, refraining from revealing any further details. Otherwise, the Croatian MVT Solutions entered the first investment arrangement last year.

The Grunner X smart electric bike, which they developed on their own IoT platform and was the first bike with the IoT system in the world, was set apart last year as a separate business. Registered in Croatia, Grunner Bikes has developed, in partnership with Middle Eastern company Arabco Smart Technology, a special version of this amazing e-bike for the Dubai police.

"In three months, we've developed a state of the art product for one of the most developed police forces in the world," says Golubić.

Last year, one of the co-owners of Grunner Bikes was announced as Chinese billionaire Xuegao Song, who simultaneously announced that he would build an electric car and scooter factory in Croatia. "A Chinese investor has entered the game as our partner in planned batch production," concludes Golubić.

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Monday, 3 June 2019

Young Female Roboticists Offer the World an Impressive Image of Croatia

As Novac/Nikola Patkovic writes on the 3rd of June, 2019, although they've only just stepped out into the often confusing teenage world, they already have virtually defined their life goals. In their case, it's easy to talk about a group of very young girls who are offering the world an outstanding picture of Croatia.

These youngsters from Osijek, sisters Jona and Nika Važić, Helena Floreani and Klara Uranjek, are students from Osijek who are working alongside their counterparts from Đakovo, Iva Mijakić, Ana Švegli and Marina Ćurković. At first glance, the group look no different to your typical group of young girls, who don't appear to differ remotely from their peers. However, if you dig just a little below the surface, surprising and impressive details of the lives of these girls who, when leading by their own example, could be models and a stimulus not only to their peers but also to numerous adults across the country who would prefer to do little else but complain.

Apart from the fact that they are all excellent students with an average of 5.0, all of these young girls have a whole host of additional interests and activities. Volleyball, dance, acting, athletics, gymnastics... these are just some of them. However, the reason they're so interesting lies in what connects them all, namely, programming and robotics.

Jona, Helena, Nika, Klara, Iva, Ana and Marina are the cream of the crop of Croatian programmers and roboticists in the competition of students from the sixth to the eighth grade in elementary school, which has recently been confirmed at the Croatian Super League finalists of the Croatian Makers League organised by Nenad Bakić, who has been the founder and the biggest populariser and developer of STEM area development in Croatian primary schools for a few years now.

After they were declared the best in Croatia last year, Osijek locals Helena, Nika and Klara came to Zagreb last weekend for a competition consisting of 40 teams and around 150 contestants under the guidance of Tomislav Pandurić, where they took home the title of vice-champion, while their friends from  Đakovo, Iva, Ana and Marina, brought the bronze home.

This time, gold went to boys from Križevci, but the girls still went home more than proud of their acheivements.

''Although we didn't manage to defend the title, of course we were satisfied, especially since the competition had also advanced, so it wasn't easy to get such a good result. In addition, the task we had was very difficult, so our success meant more. To be the second in the competition of 40 teams from all over Croatia is a big thing and we're very happy with our performance,'' the youngsters from Osijek are all in agreement and happy with the results.

Their friends from Đakovo also said that they had been expecting a high ranking.

''Because we've been at the top of Croatia for years, as we've now confirmed. However, we had some minor problems and half an hour before the end of the program we realised that we'd be unsuccessful, but in the end, we still managed to get through and we did a good job,'' said the students from Đakovo.

This time, the topic at hand was ecology. All of the teams had the task of programming robots so that they could perform tasks such as waste sorting, as well as hold mutual communication between two robots.

They say it was difficult and a tense experience. They only spent about three hours programming, during which they were left entirely alone and with their knowledge, and mentors could no longer offer any help.

Their task was to program mBoot to pass through a tunnel that changes its lighting level, so the timely detection of that change with the help of a sensor has to be taken into account, not to mention the robot's ability to continue going down its path without hitting the tunnel walls. After that, the robot had to detect the colour of a certain card, each of which meant a different type of waste, and after detecting it, he had to find a cube of the same colour and move it to the place foreseen for that kind of waste. Then, he should send a message to another robot, who should return to the start of the road on the same route. From the results, it's obvious that the girls did their job very well.

When their teacher was asked why this segment is full of girls, and where all the boys are, the teacher laughed and smiled at the successfull girls from Slavonia and said that the girls drive them off when they start talking.

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Click here for the original article by Nikola Patkovic for Novac/Jutarnji