Doha - From robot football to volcanic ash-mining robots, the Qatari capital has this weekend been hosting more than 3,000 young robot enthusiasts.

The students, from more than 45 countries, designed, built and programmed robots, largely from plastic LEGO blocks.

These were then tested against a number of challenges including one which required the robots to read a basic colour code, then deliver the correct blocks to the top of the correct mountain - no easy feat, when it has to operate without human intervention.

If that was not challenging enough, the teams had just 2.5 hours to finalise their designs and then build the robot.

In another competition, teams were asked to design robots to extract resources from potentially dangerous places.

These ranged from an Iranian robot designed to produce water on Mars, to Philippine volcanic-ash-mining robots.

One team also demonstrated a mining robot which automatically activated a gas mask on the face of nearby miners if dangerous gasses were detected.

Creativity and ingenuity

Each team was judged on their creativity and ingenuity.

"We have luckily now and then seen something that is way out of the box," says Rasmus Lunding, a member of the team of judges for the category, and a former student who participated in previous events.

"Like someone who found microorganisms, which you can say is a natural resource."

Teams from Taipei won many of the prizes, but a Malaysian team took the top prize for robot football.

With two LEGO robots on each side, using sensors to detect and chase or block the ball, teams spent thousands of man-hours behind the design and building of each player.

"When you look at what they have been able to program these robots to do, it is absolutely incredible," said Lewis Affleck, managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar, a leading sponsor of the event.

"If science is fun and if education is fun, then people will be interested - and [they] will be interested in becoming the scientists and engineers of the future."

Source: Al Jazeera