When both of their sons already knew how to use a computer by the age of two, Rebecca and Vern Schier knew there was something special about their kids.
“From birth this was clear,” said mom Rebecca Schier.
“The things Hudson would reach for. And he didn’t swing on the swing, he had pulleys and was always making things.”
Most recently, Rebecca and Vern, both kindergarten teachers in Vernon, have watched in awe as their sons design, program, hand-solder wires and construct robots.
Now at just 11- and 13-years-old, Nelson and Hudson (respectively) have clearly displayed their intelligence as the world’s top young robot programmers and designers.
The brothers returned earlier this week with an impressive display of trophies from the RoboCup competition in Istanbul, Turkey.
They took gold in their under-14 division for best programming, best super team and (the top award) world champions in the junior dance league.
The pair, known as the Robo Bros., hard wired and programmed not one, not two, but five robots, which collectively flashed and danced in sync to music (Jack Johnson’s The 3 Rs).
Their robots were up against 19 primary teams from around the world, but the judges were most impressed with the Schier brothers’ use of green energy, paired with a green message.
“Everything in our robots can be re-used and re-cycled,” said Clarence Fulton student Hudson, of the robots that are powered by solar batteries and one by hydrogen fuel cells.
Their designs and performance (complete with handmade flashing T-shirts) attracted a lot of attention.
“Other teams like our ideas a lot,” said Silver Star student Nelson, the artistic designer behind it all, as teams were coming up to photograph their work and ask the brothers how they did it.
“The judges told us that their performance and robots were yards better,” said Rebecca.
“It was undeniably the best.”
This is the third year the Robo Bros. have made it to the RoboCup, and after coming one point away from a win last year, they spent all year re-wiring and programming to make their robots even more impressive.
“They literally got off the plane and said, ‘we’re ramping up and we’re going to win this year,’” said Rebecca.
Now the Robo Bros. have their sights set on some bigger projects for the future.
“Maybe I could build a Mars rover or something,” said Hudson, who is already looking at universities as he eyes a career in engineering.
And who knows, perhaps by the time he does, there will be robots doing the dirty work for him.
“At the rate it’s going I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like (in 20 years). Maybe there will be robo servants,” said Hudson.
The Robo Bros. win is a first for Canada in their league at the RoboCup – a competition that includes dance, soccer, rescue and robots at home with the goal to advance the state of the art of intelligent robots.
The original goal of RoboCup was to create a team of robots capable of winning against the human soccer World Cup champions by 2050.
It’s a goal the Robo Bros. say is attainable, especially after witnessing the impressive abilities of robot soccer players matched against each other at the competition.
Visit www.vernonmorningstar.com for a video on the Robo Bros. robots.