Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, representing Malaysia, has won the 1st runner-up in the ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest (ROBOCON) 2017 which was held at Tokyo, Japan from 26-27 August 2017. A multi-disciplinary UTM team consists of thirty-five undergraduate students from four different faculties, i.e. Faculty of Electrical Engineering (FKE-24), Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (FKM-6), Faculty of Computing (FC-4) and Faculty of Education (FP-1). The team manager is Assoc. Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Ridzuan bin Ahmad from FKE.
Founded in 2002, ABU ROBOCON, an annual robotic competition, aims to be a platform for developing autonomous robots to help humans (residential and industrial) in their daily life. The theme of the ABU ROBOCON competition is changing and set by the host country. A total of 19 teams from 18 countries were competing in the competition. The theme for this year’s event is ‘The Landing Disk’ introduced by host country Japan. Each team has to build one robot. The theme revolves around the word “asobi” (play), which is also a fundamental philosophy behind ROBOCON. In “asobi,” playful, unique, original show of skills is often more important than winning or losing, as everyone – friend and foe alike – can applaud and enjoy them. So, in the “asobi” spirit: playful, unique, original robot designs and strategies are given the main priority.
Each game will be conducted between two teams, each with one (1) robot. The game field is a rectangle divided into two sides for each team. Each side consists of a Start Zone, Throwing Area, and Loading Zone. On the field are seven (7) spots consisting of a circular table attached to a column with varying heights and areas. Of the seven (7) spots, five (5) are placed along the center line dividing the sides, while the remaining two (2) are placed near to each side. At the start of the game, a beach ball rests on the center of all the spots. The number of discs a team can use during the game shall be fifty (50) placed at the Loading Area. After the start of the game, the team may load discs onto its robot when the robot reaches the Loading Area. The robots of both teams may throw discs at any ball on any spot to knock the balls off the spots. Scores will be counted when a team’s disc lands on a spot where its ball has been knocked off. When all the balls have been knocked off of their spot and a team successfully lands its discs on all the spots, that team reaches “APPARE!”, and is declared the winner of the game. If neither team reaches “APPARE!”, and either both use up the fifty (50) discs or the game time of three (3) minutes passes, the game shall end. The winner will be decided by who has the higher score at the said end of the game.
Malaysia team beat several strong teams during the tournament. In the group stage, Malaysia team beat Korean and Iranian teams. In the quarterfinal, Malaysia team beat Japan team represented by University of Tokyo. While in the semifinal, Malaysia team beat Thailand team. In the final match, there were between Malaysia or Vietnam to fight for the victory. Malaysia team ended with the 1st runner-up. In all of the winning matches, Malaysia team successfully completed the task, also known as “APPARE”. Malaysia team shows that the quality of UTM’s students is recognized at the international level.