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Israeli students shine at international robotics dancing competition

Posted By ISRAEL21c Staff On August 16, 2007 @ 3:40 pm In | No Comments

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert watches the dancing Bukharian robot, created by three Israeli yeshiva students that won the International RoboCup Dancing Challenge.Three students of robotics from the Or Avner Yeshiva High School were congratulated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week for their victory in Robocup, the Robot World Cup Initiative Dancing Challenge held in Atlanta, Georgia last month.

Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov beat 50 teams from 23 other countries with their creations Mommy, Mafrat and Brownie the dog.

Olmert was treated to an exclusive performance in which the robots, dressed in the traditional Bukharian dress of their creators’ native land (all three immigrated to Israel from Bukharia, Uzbekistan), twirled to a slow song about the coming of the Messiah. Olmert was as impressed as the Robocup audience in the US, which gave the Israeli team a standing ovation.

Moti Meir, the winners’ teacher, said that “Or Avner nurtured them and dedicated all of its resources toward helping them.”

The 11th RoboCup tournament, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, consisted of two challenges, explained Chaimov. In one, each country’s team competed against all the others. In the second, three teams had to work together to program a new dance for all their robots.

Teamed with Japanese and American students, the Israelis proposed a wedding. Dan the American robot would marry Mafrat – to Mommy’s disapproval. Brownie would come to the lovebirds’ rescue, barking at Mommy. The Japanese robot would join in the dancing when the couple finally got married.

Chaimov, 16, who built Mafrat, arrived from Bukharia just two-and-a-half years ago. The Bukharian natives’ interest in robotics began before RoboCup. Chaimov created a “smart room,” where motion sensors trigger lights to turn on when people enter the room and off when people leave. He hopes to develop a breakdancing robot next year – in the 11th grade.

Yisraelov devised a menora that lights up with realistic flames, which turn on and off in the correct order. Yalizerov invented a robot that is able to sense the color black, following any thick black line.

Diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, the Bukharian-born supporter of the Or Avner schools, called the three students his “dearest diamonds.”

“None of this would have been able to happen if the school hadn’t paid for our materials and our flight to Atlanta,” said Yisraelov.

RoboCup is an international research and education initiative, and the first official games were held in Nagoya, Japan in 1993. Since then, the annual games were hosted by different countries around the world including France (1998), Australia (2000), Germany (2006).

(Reprinted with permission of The Jerusalem Post)