First Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge to be held in Coimbra in May 2014

First Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge to be held in Coimbra in May 2014

The first Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Challenge (HRATC) organised by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (RAS-SIGHT) will take place from the 31st of May until the 1st June 2014 in Coimbra, Portugal.  

Members of the TIRAMISU consortium have played an instrumental role in organising the event.

The focus of the challenge will be on developing innovative strategies for autonomous landmine detection using mobile, ground-based robots. Teams of participants from universities, industry and the Mine Action community will be assessed on several different criteria, namely exploration time and environmental coverage (the team’s ability to control the robot so that it can efficiently and comprehensively explore a designated area of land); detection and classification quality (the skill of the team members in ensuring the robot can detect metal objects and accurately distinguish between safe objects and landmine threats) and  landmine avoidance (the participants’ ability to navigate the robot around the site without it making contact with explosive devices). The teams will all use the same robot and will have access to a simulator to enable them to develop their codes and carry out testing in advance.

The mission of RAS-SIGHT is the application of robotics and automation technologies for the promotion of humanitarian causes, and leveraging existing and emerging technologies for humanitarian purposes all over the world. 

The UN Mine Action Service reports that landmines kill an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 people every year, most of whom are children, and seriously injure or maim many more.  In addition, clearance of explosives from post-conflict areas can cost anywhere between 300 and 1000 US dollars for the removal of each mine (approximately 220 € - 730 €); engaging the international community in restoring mine-infested areas to safety is therefore necessary, due to not only the levels of investment required but also the specialist expertise required by operational staff.  RAS-SIGHT will hold the event to provide a platform for engaging stakeholders from across the globe in using robots for Humanitarian Demining operations.

The event will be shown in real time at this year’s International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA’14) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in China, which takes place between the 31st of May and the 7th of June 2014.  

Read more: www.isr.uc.pt/HRATC2014?