On runway one there are starting difficulties, the first ones are already tearing their hair out. Finally he sets off, the opponent's lead on lane two is unassailable. The spectators are getting closer and closer, it's getting tight, those who were standing further away before can't see anything anymore. A Hollywood-style race to catch up: The opponent breaks down shortly before the finish, his engine breaks down. Won!

In the gymnasium of the Lycée Français Victor Hugo in Frankfurt, the students of the Lycée cheer, they literally roar, because one of their teams has won this round of the robot competition. It took place for the first time in 2017, initiated by teacher Christophe Bouvet. After a three-year pandemic break, the robot competition entered its fourth round on Wednesday. 250 young people from the sixth to the ninth grade took part, including guests from Berlin, Alsace and Prague.

Your ears are ringing as the young people lie in each other's arms and celebrate. It has to be said that it's only the round of sixteen. Even the primary school children of the Lycée are there, they sit in the front row and make big eyes. Music is booming over the loudspeakers. While the jury determines the opponents of the next round, there is an entertainment program. Then everyone becomes silent, one girl plays Coldplay on the violin, another on the keyboard.

Housing mostly made with 3D printer

Thaddee is standing on a bench. From there, he watches the race to catch up on the winding course and chats with the guys around him. The thirteen-year-old is taking part in the competition for the first time and is wearing one of the bright orange T-shirts of the participants. His teammates Ibrahim, Berthold and he reached the quarter-finals a few minutes ago with a pinpoint victory for their robot "Speedy Gonzales". As soon as the table shows who is competing against whom, a nervous concentration spreads among everyone. The adrenaline level is and remains high. In the quarter-finals, "Speedy" has to cover a straight line as quickly as possible, drive through a portal with two doors at the end and come to a stop behind it. If he drives too fast and overshoots the target, he is disqualified.

Most of its red housing has been produced with a 3D printer. At the top, a black plaster figure climbs out. It looks like something out of a horror movie – a broad interpretation of this year's design motto "Traffic Rules"? The case is supposed to represent a shield, Thaddee explains. Ibrahim grins and interjects: "We'd rather be fast than beautiful." After all, the design prize, which is awarded before the races, does not mean that you will win. The three of them worked on "Speedy" for four months. According to the rules, the robots must be able to move without the use of a remote control, stay in contact with the ground and have an on/off device. For students, this means that they have to apply what they learn in technology class, from electronics to programming. This can be tricky. If, for example, the infrared sensors are misaligned, the robot will go off the course line, if it is too heavy, the opposing team will overtake it.