Aussie robots prepare for battle

Four Australian robot technology teams are battling it out against eight teams around the world in a competition to find the next generation of battlefield-ready autonomous robots.

Next month, four Australian robot technology teams will battle it out against eight other teams around the world for a spot in the final competition to find battlefield-ready autonomous robots.

The 12 teams from Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan and Turkey are currently competing for the final five spots in the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotics International Challenge (MAGIC) "grand challenge" event to be held in South Australia in November.

Greg Combet, minister for Defence Materiel and Science, said the five teams will be chosen by a panel of Australian and US Defence scientists, who will evaluate the robot prototypes put forward by each team.

"The MAGIC Technical Assessment Panel will visit each of the 12 teams over the next few weeks for an intensive evaluation of their concept demonstrators, which will result in a list of five finalists," Combet said in a statement.

The final five teams will be announced next month and Combet said each will receive additional funding in order to finish up their prototype robots to compete for close to US$2 million in prize money.

"Each of the finalists will receive further research grants of US$50,000 to complete their projects for the Grand Challenge," Combet said.

    The four Australian teams comprise of:
  • the University of New South Wales;
  • MAGICIAN — a team consisting of the University of Western Australia, Flinders University, Edith Cowan University, Thales Australia and software firm ILLIARC;
  • the University of Adelaide with Sydney robotics company Strategic Engineering; and
  • La Trobe University working together with Melbourne engineering company Numinance.

The Australian Defence Science and Technology organisation and the US Department of Defense are the organisers of the MAGIC initiative.

"MAGIC aims to develop fully autonomous robots capable of conducting dangerous missions and keeping soldiers out of harm's way," Combet said.