Singapore TechX challenge: think Wall-E with guns

Posted: September 20, 2008 in Technology
Tags: , , , ,

Last year Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency offered up 1 million sing dollars to anyone who can build a robot that can operate autonomously in urban conditions. Singapore has always been vigilant and it realizes that even a small country can be a prime target for terrorism or even an invasion from another country. Twenty-eight teams comprising more than 170 individuals from five countries registered and now only 6 teams are left.

The finals will take place tomorrow, event details are as follows: (free admission and open to everyone)

Date: Sunday 21 September 2008

Venue: Republic Polytechnic

Time: 9:30 am

The robots will have to do several tasks like navigating through a building , going on an elevator, climbing up a flight of stairs, tagging or take out a few targets like dustbin and soldiers and leaving the building all without human intervention.

The Teams:

Team Azrobowar- build by 5 amateurs in their own time with their own money. This is one of the more interesting teams to watch since they funded themselves they only had about 8,000 dollars as their budget (other teams usually spent 200-300k on their robots). Sharp Shooter, their robot, weighs about 118kg and most parts were bough second-hand; the arm was scavenged from a dustbin about 10 yrs ago by a team member, and its design incorporates ordinary webcams, a game controller and a whelchair motor.

Team SP-Freiburg – a 20 member team of students and staff from Singapore Polytechnic and Germany’s University of Freiburg. Their robot weighs 100kg and is built on a TELEMAX robot base, a remotely operated bot used for explosive and ordnance disposal. The team modified it with sensors and other hardware and software so it could run independently. SP-Freiburg uses 3 long-range scanners, and another on the robot’s manipulator arm- to detect its surroundings and identify objects.

Team Evolution – A team from Nanyang Tech University’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and School of Computer Engineering. Their robot, Uniseeker, is a commercially available robot platform converted with their own computers and sensors. It weights around 100kg and uses 2 computers with different operating systems to speed up operations.

Team TP Robotics – A 7 member team of staff and students from Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Engineering. TP Robot, weights 50kg has 4 cameras and 3 laser scanners for efficient sensing. The team is on of only two not using a commercial robot platform, in order to give students and staff more hands-on experience building a robot from scratch.

Team Fantastic Four – A 14 member team from National Technological University’s  School of Electrical and Electronincs Engineering, Autonomous Robots Lab. Their small 40kg, 1m high xWarrior bot was built in their lab. Its base is a modified iRobot Packbot, a commercially available model. XWarrior was built and tested in just 6 months by 4 teams of graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and professors.

Team X-1 – A 15 member team of staff , researchers and students from National Universit of Singapore and A*Star’s Institute of Infocomm Research, with background in robotics, mechanical engineering, computer vision and machine learning. X-1, their robot, can transform itself e.g. when climbing stairs its central arm shifts forward for balance. X-1 is only 1m tall but can extend up to 2.2 meters.

Check out the TechX challenge website here.

For winners (or lack thereof) and videos click here.

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