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Robot that cleans navy ship wins contest

According to a recent report, this year’s winning idea in the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney’s Maker Games is a robot that cleans and paints a navy ship while in dry docks.

On its second year, the Maker Games Final Showcase wowed the audience with prototypes made by budding engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs and designers to solve real-world problems set by industry partners.

The event winners responded to the challenge set by their mentor from a company from the defence industry to come up with a way to make the cleaning and painting of naval warships a cheaper, safer and more efficient process.

Months of brainstorming led the team to emerge with the idea of an Autonomous Magnetic Attraction Robot (AMAR).

The robot is designed using magnets to attach to the side of a steel vessel. High pressure water, which was simulated with hose nozzles and paints, were added in order to be used for cleaning and painting the ship.

AMAR was showcased to the judges by being put through its paces in a simulation of the robot working on a ship’s exterior.

The robot appeared to be a compact, flat box on four discreet wheels.

It is about the size of a dinner tray that moved autonomously back and forth along a makeshift ship’s hull, which was set up on stage at an acute angle.

Conventional cleaning and painting of a naval ship involves having the vessel lifted into dry dock while many maintenance workers toiled in often dangerous conditions in a long and arduous process that costs A$ 250,000 a day.

AMAR would require only one person per device to oversee its operation.

It will not only eliminate the danger on maintenance workers, but it will also reduce the maintenance bill by millions of dollars per ship.

The winners will be flown to California’s Silicon Beach, the tech hub of the western beach suburbs of Los Angeles.

While there, they will network with leading engineering and design organisations over the course of one week.

The runner-up responded to the challenge of finding an easier way to stop grass from interfering with solar panels in an outdoor installation at ground level where panels were just 200mm above the ground.

Their solution was to design a new kind of autonomous lawn mower. This one was wider, flatter and had three sensors.

It was impressive how each of the 14 groups zeroed in on the mechanical, digital, electrical or computational requirements to arrive at highly original solutions to these real-world problems.

This represents the very best UNSW as an exemplar of generosity and partnership. It is a wonderful example of people coming together.

Some of the highlights of the events include seeing students who did not place on the winners’ podium to still walk away with some great industry connections.

There were students who have already received an internship offer because of the event. There were also industry players who wanted to immediately negotiate Intellectual Property (IP).

Meanwhile, external companies have expressed an interest in working with specific student teams.

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