Australia — Mission accomplished, robots await verdict

Five teams of super-smart robots have safe­ly returned to base after car­ry­ing out a daunt­ing mis­sion in the finale of the Mul­ti Autonomous Ground-robot­ic Inter­na­tion­al Chal­lenge (MAGIC), which con­clud­ed at the Roy­al Ade­laide Show­grounds today.
Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Defence, Sen­a­tor David Feeney, said the 18-month long robot com­pe­ti­tion cul­mi­nat­ed in an impres­sive dis­play of autonomous vehi­cle sys­tems with next-gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies.

“The judges now face the dif­fi­cult task of deter­min­ing the top three teams that have demon­strat­ed the most effec­tive capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the MAGIC event this week.

“To deter­mine the win­ners, the judges must com­pare the per­for­mance of each team against pre­de­ter­mined cri­te­ria,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said. 

Dur­ing the Grand Final event, each of the five teams field­ed three or more robots and com­plet­ed a com­plex task involv­ing map­ping and iden­ti­fy­ing threats while demon­strat­ing a high lev­el of self-direct­ed coop­er­a­tion among the vehicles.

The five com­pet­ing teams were RASR (Recon­nais­sance and Auton­o­my for Small Robots), Team Michi­gan and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia from the Unit­ed States, Cap­pado­cia from Turkey, and the Aus­tralian team MAGI­Cian, com­pris­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Aus­tralia and Flinders University. 

The teams also par­tic­i­pat­ed in a non-com­pet­i­tive demon­stra­tion event to show­case the capa­bil­i­ties of their robots before an invit­ed audi­ence of VIPs.

“The com­pet­ing vehi­cles demon­strat­ed new advances in robot­ics tech­nol­o­gy, which are very promis­ing for their poten­tial deploy­ment in com­bat zones where they can replace our troops in car­ry­ing out life-threat­en­ing tasks,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said.

The three top teams from the MAGIC event will be announced next week at the Land War­fare Con­fer­ence. They will receive research grants of US$750,000, US$250,000 and US$100,000 respectively. 

The MAGIC 2010 ini­tia­tive is a joint project between Australia’s Defence Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy Organ­i­sa­tion (DSTO) and the US Depart­ment of Defense led by the Research, Devel­op­ment & Engi­neer­ing Com­mand of the US Army. Its aim is to accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment of next-gen­er­a­tion autonomous robot­ic sys­tems that can oper­ate autonomous­ly on the future bat­tle­field, keep­ing sol­diers out of harm’s way. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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