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Australian team among six to face final robot Grand Challenge

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

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Six high-tech teams from the USA, Turkey, Japan and Australia have made it to the finals of an international challenge to develop the next generation of fully autonomous robots that could undertake dangerous missions on the future battlefield.

Australia's Acting Chief Defence Scientist Dr. Warren Harch today announced the six finalists who will compete in the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotics International Challenge (MAGIC) at the Royal Showground in Adelaide, South Australia in November.

The six teams are: Cappadocia (Turkey), Chiba (Japan), Magician (Australia), RASR (USA), Team Michigan (USA), and University of Pennsylvania (USA).

"These teams are at the forefront of robotics technology," Dr Harch said. "They have survived a rigorous assessment and elimination process against six other semi-finalist teams."

USA Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center Director Dr. Grace Bochenek said the competition fosters international cooperation.

"We hope to inspire the next generation of researchers," she said. "We are always seeking good ideas and fresh perspectives. This challenge is a win-win – we are investing in solutions that will make our soldiers stronger through technology."

Australian and USA officials visited all twelve short-listed teams during a hectic period of several weeks to evaluate their robots. The teams performed a range of activities to demonstrate certain capabilities including the ability to operate autonomously and to map their surroundings digitally.

"The six successful teams displayed high levels of innovation and dexterity in completing their assigned tasks," Dr Harch said.

"They now have a few more months to fine-tune their concepts for the grand final challenge when they will be required to field at least three robots and accomplish a complex task involving mapping and identification of threats while demonstrating a high level of autonomy between the robots.

We want to move from the current paradigm of one man-one robot to one man and many robots."

MAGIC is a joint initiative of Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the USA Department of Defense. The aim is to develop teams of robots which can operate autonomously on the battlefield in dangerous situations, keeping soldiers out of harm’s way.

Twenty three teams from five countries submitted entries. Competition officials chose 12 teams for the semi-finals. Now, six teams will compete in the final challenge. The results from the final challenge will be announced in mid-November.

"I congratulate all the finalists and wish them well for the MAGIC Grand Challenge in Australia," Dr Harch said.
The Australian team "MAGICIAN", along with other finalists, will receive further funding of $50,000 each to complete their projects.  The Australian team is comprised of:

  • University of Western Australia (Robotics and Automation, Adaptive Systems Research Group)
  • Flinders University (Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Laboratories)
  • Edith Cowan University (Artificial Intelligence and Software Engineering Cluster)
  • Thales Australia (D3S&A, Naval Division)
  • ILLIARC Pty Ltd

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