(Photo via University of Virginia's website)
This week, a 14-person team of students from the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Engineering and Virginia Tech headed to Abu Dhabi to participate in an international robotics competition.
The annual robotics challenge, Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge 2020, is focused on advancing robotics automation. The competition is slated for Feb. 23 to 25 and will welcome 30 robotics teams as finalists. The challenge requires teams to display their automated, robotic creations with an expectation that they work as independently as possible, without human intervention. Prize and sponsorship funds for the challenge total $5 million.
The Virginia team of undergraduate and graduate engineering students named VIrginia Cooperative of auTOnomous Robots (VICTOR) is being led by UVA robotics researcher Tomonari Furukawa. The team includes students studying in the fields of mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science. Team VICTOR is one of four selected to compete as a finalist from the United States. The other three U.S.-based finalist teams hail from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“In our single team, there are people with a large variety of backgrounds and knowledge who can approach a problem from a completely different perspective,” said team member Arthur Pawlica, a master’s student at UVA, in a statement. “Having the entire team together means everyone can get a fresh take on their work, and the extra input has a profound impact on our progress. It’s also more fun when everyone is working together.”
VICTOR is entering a group of unmanned aerial vehicles and an unmanned ground vehicle to compete. The challenge will feature several simulations, where teams will be judged on their robotics’ performances completing tasks.
“Getting from today to a future when robots are providing so many services will require engineers to make much more sophisticated robots,” Furukawa said. “I can also see robots helping with problems that would be hazardous for humans.”
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