Students and researchers in international robotics competition

Tuesday 08 Aug 17


Nils Axel Andersen
Associate Professor
DTU Electrical Engineering
+45 45 25 35 83


Ole Ravn
Professor, Head of Group, Study Line Coordinator Automation and Robot Technology
DTU Electrical Engineering
+45 45 25 35 60

The competition

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC), is held every other year in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Read also the news article published on 27 March 2017: "DTU Robot took on the world’s elite universities" 
As the only Scandinavian university, DTU participated in a robotics competition in Abu Dhabi where robots demonstrated their ability to perceive and adapt to changes in their surroundings.

The latest research in the field of robot technology was put to the test when the world’s leading universities in the field met in Abu Dhabi in mid-March—not for a conventional science conference but for a robotics competition with a total of four disciplines. It ended with a fourth place overall for DTU—and a silver medal in one of the disciplines. However, it was an achievement in itself to be one of the 25 teams that were chosen to participate in the competition from among 143 applicants:

“It’s been an elimination process over the past nine months, with interested universities having to submit multiple reports with descriptions of the robots’ functions. In addition, we had to send videos demonstrating that we possess the technological insight to build and operate such a robot,” explains Associate Professor Nils Axel Andersen from DTU Electrical Engineering

Robots now able to understand their surroundings
Tomorrow’s robot is able to do more than just carry out the same movement in a fixed pattern, which we know from robots in our homes or in industrial companies today. Researchers have now developed robots that are capable of such advanced technical image processing from their onboard cameras that they can perceive their surroundings, register changes, and act accordingly.

“Traditional robots are ‘stupid’ in the sense that they are merely coded to carry out the same movement, for example moving something from A to B or vacuum clean until the robot encounters an obstacle. Thanks to the most recent robotics research, we are now able to successfully encode the robots so that they are able to read and recognize their surroundings. They are responsive to changes if, for example, something has been moved or has changed colour or shape. At the same time, they are able to communicate with and then coordinate their work with other robots. This is what we demonstrated at the competition,” says Associate Professor Ole Ravn, Head of Group, Automation, at DTU Electrical Engineering.

Ole Ravn predicts that the DTU researchers’ newly developed robots will have a considerable impact on the increased automation of our workplaces:

“Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, are reluctant to use robots today. But when, in future, they are able to use flexible robots that can be programmed to perform different kinds of tasks and even take into account that things aren’t always exactly the same from one day to the next, I’m confident that we’ll see a revolution in the area.”

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