Stratos TV to show clever Kiwi kids building robots

Monday 21 February 2011, 12:02PM
By Stratos TV

New Zealand independent broadcaster Stratos Television is to screen New Zealand students and their robots battling it out in the NZ VEX Robotics National Championships final live on Sunday March 6.

Coverage of the event kicks off on Stratos at 2pm, with a repeat scheduled on Triangle Television at 8.30pm.

The VEX Robotics competition is the fastest growing robotics competition in the world with more than 3000 participants from 22 countries worldwide. New Zealand currently holds the VEX Robotics World Championship title through a combined team from Kristin School and Albany Home School in Auckland.

This year the competition game involves the alliance of two schools and their robots competing against other alliances to pick up a number of rings and stack them on posts placed around the game area. Robots can steal rings from their opponents with each ring carrying a number of points. Points are also given to robots that manage to climb a ladder placed in the middle of the arena. The team with the most points wins.

High school students from around New Zealand have been preparing for this national competition since May, last year. Successful teams will go on to defend New Zealand’s world champion title at the VEX Robotics World Championships in Orlando, Florida in April.

Chris Hamling, national manager of Kiwibots, says teams have been fine tuning their robots by competing in monthly school competitions and that is one of the reasons New Zealand teams are the current World Champions.

“By the time our teams get to the world champs they will be hardened and have all the bugs worked out of their robots, which will give them a competitive edge,” Mr Hamling says. “This competition is about more than just having a good robot. It’s about inspiring a passion for science and technology.”

Stratos TV CEO Jim Blackman believes the competition is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the amazing talents of Kiwi kids and to inspire more students to get involved. Following the nationwide launch of Stratos on Freeview on March 1, the coverage will be available free-to-air to all New Zealand viewers with a TV set that has Freeview included, or a Freeview set top box.

Stratos and its sister channel Triangle Television have grown their audience to nearly 900,000 regular viewers a month according to AC Nielsen. That number is expected to grow quickly following the nationwide, free-to-air launch and new programming such as the VEX Robotics National Championships.

The VEX Robotics National Championships can be viewed on Stratos nationwide via Freeview, Sky Digital Channel 89, or TelstraClear cable Channel 50 ( in Christchurch and Wellington) with replayed coverage on Triangle Auckland on UHF Channels 41, 42 and 52.