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HKSTP launches Robocon 2020 to train young innovators

Image Credits: HKSTP, Press Release

The Robocon 2020 Hong Kong Contest concluded at Hong Kong Science Park with the crowning of “War Dragon” from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as the champion team in a highly-competitive contest to showcase local talent and their flair for creativity and robotic engineering and display their full potential as future innovators.

The annual Robocon contest, organised by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), is the ideal platform to nurture future engineers with a passion for robotics. It aims to stimulate students’ interests in robotics development and application through hands-on experience of designing and building robots.

This year’s competition pitted nine teams from six local tertiary institutions across multiple disciplines, bringing together the brightest minds and potential in design, programming, robotics, engineering and technology. Despite the ongoing pandemic which limited each team’s ability to test their creations within the game field before the actual competition, every team triumphed in the contest.

The CEO of HKSTP stated that the Park was proud to see the 2020 class of Robocon demonstrate incredible creativity, expertise and perseverance in overcoming all challenges and showcasing the best of Hong Kong’s young engineering and technology talent. AI and robotics are emerging as fundamental enablers of the sustainable economy. The development of top talent and subsequent technologies will sharpen Hong Kong’s competitive edge by revitalising industries like construction, manufacturing and logistics and further diversify the economy.

The competing teams put on a show of “Robo Rugby Sevens” in a battle of coding and engineering skills. The competition required each team to design two robots as rugby players to pass the ball, overcome obstacles and make successful goal kicks.

Hong Kong has a track record of nurturing world-class robotics talent as the champions of the Robocon 2019 Hong Kong Contest, Phantom Dancer from The Chinese University of Hong Kong was the first Hong Kong team to win the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Asia-Pacific Robot Contest in Mongolia in 2019.

In an interview with Dr Andy Chun, Council Member and Convenor of the AI Specialist Group, Hong Kong Computer Society to discuss AI and its purpose and necessity in Hong Kong, OpenGov Asia reported that the use of AI to improve public services is not new; almost a decade ago, the Hong Kong Immigration Department already used AI and machine learning in their Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES).

APPLIES is an on-line information system for processing applications for visas, permits, travel passes, registration matters relating to births, deaths, marriage and investigation cases. AI helps streamline workflow and automate decision-making, by acting as an augmented intelligent tool for Immigration Department staff.

More recently, the HKSAR government committed over HK$100 billion to support key innovation and technology (I&T) areas, including AI. Tens of billions are being invested into the city’s various technology centres, such as the Hong Kong Science Park, Cyberport, and the new Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park, where AI is a key focus.

In addition, significant funding is being channelled into supporting I&T and R&D in Universities as well as enterprises and start-ups in Hong Kong. In 2018, the Government established a new Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.

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