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Autonomous robotics competition coming to Sydney

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Young robot designers are preparing their machines to face off in a live autonomous competition involving teams from leading Australian and New Zealand universities.

30 student teams have passed four of the five milestone tasks assigned to their robots, with one final stage required to secure a spot in the 2014 National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NI ARC) final on Thursday, 25 September at Macquarie University in Sydney.

This year's competition task focuses on agriculture, an important industry across Oceania and a key growth industry for robotics applications. Themed 'Go, Sow, Grow!' team robots need to wirelessly communicate within their environment, collect seeds, navigate to a farming area littered with obstacles, deposit the collected seeds in designated planting areas then navigate back to the home zone.

All participating teams received an NI ARC development kit including an NI myRIO - board and NI LabVIEW 2013 system design software, featuring the LabVIEW Robotics Module.

Matej Krajnc, Managing Director for National Instruments Oceania said the competition helps prepare students for the workplace by teaching them valuable hands-on and project-focused skills.

“The competition not only allows students to demonstrate their engineering and mechatronics skills on an international platform, it also teaches them how to complete a defined goal within time limits”.

“The success rate of teams making it through the competition stages has been very impressive this year, as has the growth once again in the number of teams and universities entering the competition, with a diverse range of students across New Zealand and all six Australian states making it to this critical point in the contest,” said Krajnc.

All teams have passed four milestone tasks under the guidance of academic supervisors and support of NI Engineers, with just one final milestone on 25 August granting entry into the live final event.

The winner of the NI Autonomous Robotics Competition will receive a cash prize of $3,000, second and third place will collect $1,500 and $750 respectively. A bonus prize of $500 will be rewarded to the team with the best robot design. All teams that successfully complete the competition tasks get to keep the development kit, valued at over $20,000.

Last year, Victoria University of Wellington’s team won the competition with their robot, Michelangelo.

Universities competing in the 2014 competition include:

New South Wales
1. University of Newcastle
2. University of Sydney
3. University of Technology Sydney
4. University of Western Sydney
5. University of Wollongong
6. University of New South Wales
7. Macquarie University

1. Queensland University of Technology
2. University of Queensland
3. Griffith University- Gold Coast Campus

1. Flinders University
2. University of South Australia

1. La Trobe University
2. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
3. Swinburne University
4. Victoria University
5. Monash University
6. University of Melbourne

1. University of Tasmania

Western Australia
1. Curtin University
2. University of Western Australia

New Zealand
1. Manukau Institute of Technology
2. University of Auckland
3. Victoria University of Wellington
4. Massey University

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