Underwater robot builders at the University of Science and Technology will defend their Hong Kong championship title next month.
In the Tseung Kwan O swimming pool from April 18 to 19, they will take on about 12 challengers from local and overseas schools in the most advanced class, Explorer. Another 16 Hong Kong schools will take on eight overseas teams in the Ranger class.
Last year the UST’s ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team took the Explorer title in the Asia-wide tournament held at City University. “Octopus”, their robot, proved best at carrying out the underwater tasks set by judges. Explorer class is mainly for universities; Ranger for secondary schools.
The UST team was made up of 12 students from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, German, Italy and Indonesia. They came from different disciplines at the university: Schools of Engineering, Science and Business. This year’s team is just as diverse and some of the same students will be competing again.
A new Scout class is being introduced for junior high school students. From March 28 to 29 students from 24 schools will take part in an underwater robot building and operating workshop at the UST. The best teams will then join eight others at the Asian tournament next month in the TKO swimming pool.
The Marine Advanced Technology Education Centre in Monterey, California, devises difficult missions which the robots have to be designed to accomplish. This year the contest takes place under ice – -simulated by bubble wrap over the surface of the pool. Teams must rely on sensors and cameras to guide the robots and manipulate their tools.
The Hong Kong event is organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology Hong Kong along with UST and PolyU. Around 500 teams take part world-wide in 21 similar regional events, Hong Kong being the largest. Regional winners meet to compete at the world finals run by MATE in June at Newfoundland, Canada.
The TKO event is open to the public, and a number of students from Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay are members of the teams taking part.