The biggest team of 27 members from Czech Technical University, University of Pennsylvania and New York University were the grand winners of the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) held in Abu Dhabi.
The team of three universities stood second in Challenge 1, then topped Challenge 2, missed the podium in Challenge 3 and eventually triumphed in Grand Challenge – all held parallel to the Unmanned Systems Exhibition (Amex) and the Simulation and Training Exhibition (SimTEX). In the final Grand Challenge, all the teams had to do their three challenges together – to catch a flying object, burst balloons, build walls and extinguish the fire on façade of a building using their drones and robots. The efforts by the team were further proof that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) will soon be part of daily lives.
“In one challenge, we were able to catch an object flying at 8m/sec. In the second one, we destroyed balloons in the arena without any pilot, built the wall with our drones and ground robots to win that challenge. And the third one was to a firefight in a building using water, put a blanket etc. We did all of these to win the Grand Challenge,” said Martin Saska, the chief of the team, from Czech Technical University in Prague.
“We have a combined team but 22 participants are from Czech Technical University,” said Saska, who is the adviser of PhD students at the university.
The team is made of research students and Saska believes the MBZIRC was an enriching experience.
“This event is great because it is in the current state of robotics. It really forces each team to do better. It improves our knowledge. We can use the experience in many of our future projects.”
There was, however, no $5-million cash prize awarded to the winner. The international jury, which judged the competitions, decided to roll the money to the next edition citing lack of quality. The MBZIRC, organised by Khalifa University of Science and Technology, had 32 teams from 17 countries shortlisted as finalists.
In the Grand Challenge, the University of Bonn team came second, while the combined team of Universidad Politecnica Madrid, Universidad Pablo Olvide Poznan University of Technology – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique won the third place.
And now there will be a two-day MBZIRC Symposium to be held in Abu Dhabi from Wednesday.