Robots are widely used as a vehicle to spark interest in science and technology in learners. A number of initiatives focus on this issue, for instance, the Roberta Initiative, the FIRST Lego League, the World Robot Olympiad and RoboCup Junior. Robotic competitions are valuable not only for school learners but also for university students, as the RoboCup initiative shows. Besides technical skills, the students get some project exposure and experience what it means to finish their tasks on time. But qualifying students for future high-tech areas should not only be for students from developed countries. In this article, we present our experiences with research and education in robotics within the RoboCup initiative, in Germany and South Africa; we report on our experiences with trying to get the RoboCup initiative in South Africa going. RoboCup has a huge support base of academic institutions in Germany; this is not the case in South Africa. We present our ‘north–south’ collaboration initiatives in RoboCup between Germany and South Africa and discuss some of the reasons why we think it is harder to run RoboCup in South Africa
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