Monday, May 16, 2016

Landmine Defusing Challenge at ICRA Sweden selects Sastra Robotics for Finals

In Landmine Defusing Challenge, "Team Autobots" got selected into the finals of HRATC conducted by ICRA in Sweden. Sastra Robotics & QBotics Labs, two separate robotic startups from Kerala who joined hands to build the Team Autobots. Indian team has thus landed into the finals of the Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge (HRATC). The team that is participating on behalf of the Indian startup is named Autobots. ICRA is the reputed robotics conference. HRATC is a competition conducted by ICRA in association with SIGHT (Special Interest Group for Humanitraian Technology) under IEEE.

Landmine Defusing Challenge at ICRA Sweden selects Sastra Robotics for Finals

The International Conference of Robotics and Automation (ICRA) aims to bring together the top scientists and researchers engaged in cutting edge robotic technologies. ICRA 2016 is organized to take place in Stockholm, Sweden from May 16th to 21st. As reported by the UN Mine Action Service, landmines are responsible for killing at least 15,000 to 20,000 people every year having a majority of children in this count. Minesweeping is quite dangerous in terms of being time intensive and abrupt. A large number of landmines that have been left behind by soldiers continue to increase terror and destruction of human lives long after the wars have been called off or finished.

Landmine casualties, in fact, bring an additional and substantial burden on war-stricken countries. For instance, if a mother gets killed or mutilated by a landmine makes her entire family at risk of disease and malnutrition. This, in fact, impacts on generations to come, in such cases. Similarly, a child when gets mutilated by a landmine creates a burden on its family, society, and health services of the country thereby impounding impact on the nation as a whole.

The Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge (HRATC) aims to search and diffuse hidden unexploded landmines with the use of robotics and without human interventions so as to increase efficiency and decrease risks. Autobots, the team created by Sastra Robotics & QBotics Labs, from Kerala, to accept this challenge has been rated among the top 4 teams participating globally. The final 4 teams that made to the finals of the challenge will now be competing further for the top position. Autobots currently is with the leading score among the 4 finalists. The team consists of robotics experts from QBotics Labs and Sastra Robotics. QBotics Labs specializes in robotics research and Sastra Robotics specializes in robotic arms for testing of high-end devices. The members of Autobots team include Lentin Joseph (CEO/ Founder of QBotics Labs) who is also leading the team, Achu Wilson (CTO/ Co-Founder of Sastra Robotics), and Chandykunju Alex (Robotics Engineer, Sastra Robotics).

The Solution designed by Autobots team is to detect the presence of landmines with accurate position (latitude, longitude) using all-terrain robot, Husky. Husky is not developed by the Team Autobots or any of the contestants. It is developed and manufactured by some company under the guidance of SIGHT. The first half of Husky is the hardware, and that is taken up by SIGHT. The second half of Husky is the software application that makes it do landmine detection and being autonomous at doing it; this is done by the contesting teams. Team Autobots and the other teams made the software half of Husky, not the hardware half. Accuracy and efficiency are the keys that define Husky's work style.

This is definitely a proud moment for Indian Robotics to get such recognition at the  global level. The final round is on May 17th.

Update as of June 1st: Team Autobots has won 1st prize in HRATC at ICRA-2016.

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