Robotex 2018 – the world’s largest robotic festival – took place in Tallinn, Estonia at the weekend.  Thousands of contestants, students, families and robot enthusiasts came together at the event to build robots, compete and get the latest news on developments in robotic technology.  

This year’s event comprised of 26 competitions and 2,406 competitors – of whom 25% were from overseas.  46 countries were represented with the reach of the festival attracting participants from as far afield as Afghanistan, China, Cyprus, Colombia, Japan, India, Mali and the United States.  

The three-day event – held from November 30 through to December 2 – drew 20,000 visitors with a demographically diverse range of competition participants from 3 years old all the way to the oldest participant at 68.  Among the competitions were Entrepreneurial Challenge, Starship Animal Rescue Challenge, Elisa AI Challenge and Insplay Challenges for children and teenagers.

“It’s great to witness that we are only getting more international and that has brought about the growth of quality of Robotex, many competitions have become more entertaining. Real talents were participating and every competition offered some challenges to the competitors and referees. We saw exciting moments, fiery debates, the joy of winning and pain of losing. I’m proud that the Estonian robotics community is so solid that we are able to meet the expectations of our visitors and attract influential international media channels and platforms such as BBC, Forbes Latvia, Arctic Startup, Computable, VentureBeat and RiseTech Media,” concludes the CEO of Robotex, Ave Laas.

The co-founder of robotically automated delivery technology company, Starship – Ahti Heinla commented on the festival:

“It was great to see so many people being interested in the exciting things that are being done in Estonia and to see them building robots and competing. Starship once again had a challenge at Robotex, which was inspired by the essence of our package robots. It was delightful to witness more competitors advancing in it this year.”

In a bid to spark interest in entrepreneurship, the festival, in collaboration with Insplay,  organised a challenge called ‘Our first startup’ – the worlds biggest startup challenge for children between kindergarten and elementary school level.  This resulted in the participation of 1100 Estonian children, presenting their startups to mentors via prototypes they had created.

“Our wish is to inspire children and youth as well as support them on their journey from being technology users toward becoming its creators,” said Insplay’s CEO Andres Sirel. “Children’s startup challenge offers a playful way to learn 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking and creativity. We believe that this challenge playfully provided children with their first practical entrepreneurship experience,” he added.  

Incorporated within the three-day festival was a technology exhibition.  Amongst the exhibitors were Cleveron, Starship, XPRIZE and Insplay. The companies demonstrated their latest technology products and services.  Milrem introduced a self-driving tank, TalTech showcased  Iseauto – Estonia’s first self-driving vehicle whilst Cleveron introduced their brand new courier robot.

Over the course of the very same weekend, the Robotex International Conference as also held, bringing together 80 speakers and 942 visitors at Tallinn’s Creative Hub.  

Both the conference and the 3-day Robotex festival drew more participation and visitor interest than ever before which all bodes well for Robotex 2019.