Two Canty robots to represent NZ

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 05:00 20/09/2012
Alex Lippitt
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
ROBOTICISTS: University of Canterbury engineering students Alex Lippitt, left, Charl Heynike, Jono De-Wit and Sam Leichter with their robot designed to automatically pick up objects.

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Two Canterbury prototype search-and-rescue robots will represent New Zealand in an Australasian competition.

The robots were built by eight University of Canterbury students, who will fly to Melbourne for the National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition tomorrow. There are 24 universities competing.

"It's a real cross-section of engineering students from across Australasia. There will be a lot of robots doing different things," said supervising professor Allan McInnes.

The robots cannot be controlled remotely: they must do everything autonomously, from going to the site and identifying the subjects in need of rescuing to taking them back to the right place.

"It's the kind of thing that people do," McInnes said.

"If you have to tell people what to do, that's easy. If you have to have tell a robot to do it, it's more complicated."

The university has entered two teams this year, the first time it has taken part.

Alex Lippitt, one of the team leaders, said the February 2011 earthquake was on team members' minds when they built their robot. “We were wondering if this would have been any help when the earthquake happened.”

He said their robot was able to navigate from its home location to the rescue site, and it was also able to recognise the cubes that needed rescuing. “We had some trouble with getting it to recognise the cubes. One was red with a square and the other was green with a triangle.

"It wouldn't recognise the one with the triangle."

However, the problem had been fixed.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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