Robot World Cup commences in Bangalore

51 teams from nine countries are competing to win the honours

Robot World Cup commences in Bangalore

What is little known, however, is that there is an annual World Cup in which robots developed by students from all over the world are pitched against each other on a playing field.  

Sounds interesting? Then visit the 15th Robot World Cup, 2010, being organised by the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA) for the first time in India, at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Not less than 51 teams from nine countries, including India, are taking part in this competition which began in 1996.

Seven institutes from India - PES Insitute of Technology, Bangalore, IIT-Kharagpur, and BITS-Pilani, A-Set Training and Research Institute, New Delhi, Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida, and Raghu Engineering College, Visakhapatnam - are participating in the event under different categories viz humanoids, wheeled robots, and simulations.

It's to the credit of Prahlad Vadakkepat, General Chair of the event, that the world cup came to India. "Robotics is still in infancy in the country. It is marred by lack of funding and support. Given that it involves almost every branch of engineering except civil, robotics should be promoted. As the world involves coordination, cooperation, and competition, it can give valuable insights into problems in social/life sciences," he told reporters.   

Jong-Hwang Kim, Honorary Chair of the Organising Committee, agrees. "India has a lot of potential in the field. It can surpass China, Korea, and Malaysia if it works harder as it has a very good advantage of English proficiency. Further, the Indias are mentally stable," Jong-Hwang said.

The contestants presented both bots (software applications that run automated tasks over the internet) and animated events. The three categories included humanoids (HuroCup, AndroSot), Wheeled Robots (MiroSot, RoboSot, and AMiRESot, and Simulations (SimuroSot).

While HuroCup saw androids (human look-alike robots) perform physical challenges like sprints, weightlifting, penalty kicks, obstacle runs, basketball, and wall climbing, the Mirosot, Androsot, and Robosot events saw bots playing in football in 3 on 3, 5 on 5, and 11 on 11 combinations.

Such high-end research-based competitions will increase the demand for international robotics markets. This will result in more companies producing the components at lesser costs, Vadakkepat says.

PESIT’s team, PES Gatik, which took part in three events - 5:5 MiroSot, 5:5 SimuroSot, and 11:11 SimuroSot - had a forgettable outing as its robots crashed. Ankit Sharma, Captain of the team, was visibly disappointed over the futility of nearly three months’ preparation.

"We lack exposure. Although we have a robotics club at our college, domestic competitions are still a distant dream. Many colleges don't even know that such competitions exist," he told Deccan Herald. Sharma was all praise for the Slovakian team which routed many of its opponents. "We could have never beaten them up. They're awesome. We learnt many things from them," he added.

The team from BITS, Pilani, however, performed well. And so did the CVR College of Engineering, Hyderabad. Akash Gupta, Captain of BITS' team AcYut, said that their team was the only participant in weightlifting under HuroCup category. "We hold a world-record," he said. The team's seven members developed 95 cm-long and seven-kilogram humanoids two and half years ago.

Amir Hamzah Abu Bakar of Politeknik Seberang Perai, Malaysia, participated in only one event - 5:5 MiroSot. They, however, lost to Slovakia and finished third.

"Two teams of eight delegates consisting of six students and two lecturers from Malaysia came to India," Abu Bakar said.

According to him, robotics is part of their curriculum. They work extensively on C, C++ languages. They improved the technology from Singapore. Korea, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK are the other countries in the world cup.

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