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ECU researchers finalists in international challenge to develop military robots

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Researchers from ECU, in collaboration with the University of WA, Flinders University and primary sponsor Thales Australia, have been announced as finalists in a multi-million dollar competition run by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the US Department of Defense.

Known as the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge, or MAGIC 2010, the competition aims to attract the most innovative solutions from around the world to address a technology gap faced by coalition forces operating in urban combat zones.

The competition was launched in July by the Hon. Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, to address the need for smart, intelligent and fully-autonomous systems that can take over from humans in conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

WA Team Coordinator and Lecturer at ECU's School of Computer and Security Science, Adrian Boeing says the consortium, named MAGICian (Multiple Autonomous Ground-vehicle International Challenge by Intelligent Autonomous Navigators) is one of only 10 teams shortlisted to go on to the production stage of the Challenge.

Thales Australia, an international electronics and systems company serving the defence, aerospace and security industries, is the team's major sponsor and will be an active participant in MAGICian.

Sensor manufacturer SICK and defence integrator Allied Data Systems are also providing valuable support.

"Over the next twelve months the project will involve a number of talented ECU students from our computing, engineering and security courses," Mr Boeing said.

"As well as working on a concept that has the potential to save lives in real combat scenarios, the students are also gaining valuable real-world experience."

In the coming months, five of the 10 shortlisted teams will receive a payment of US$50,000, with the promise of another US$50,000 in June 2010, to develop and build their vehicle prototypes and human-robot interfaces.

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox says the MAGIC competition is an exciting and innovative collaboration for ECU to be involved in.

"This project brings together a number of great minds, which offers a valuable experience for both staff and students at ECU."

The top three ranked teams will receive US$750,000, US$250,000 and US$100,000 respectively and opportunities for contracts with the US and Australian Departments of Defence.

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