AMMAN — The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE RAS) at the University of Jordan (UJ) on Saturday held the Kingdom’s first firefighting competition using robots.
Belal Noori, one of the competition organisers and a member of the IEEE RAS, told The Jordan Times over the phone that the competition includes a field with cubes and toy soldiers representing people that need to be transferred to the safe zone.
There were 20 teams taking part in the competition titled, “IEEE RAS Portal Firefighting Competition I”, and their objective was to save as many “people” as possible — a sort of evacuation process. Robots then had to put out candles, representing the actual firefighting process.
When asked about the inspiration behind holding the competition, Noori said that those interested in the field of robotics usually face problems when wanting to take part in such competitions; such as travel costs and high participation fees.
“This is why we wanted to hold it in Jordan to make things easier for those with interest in robotics, and here we have university and school students from around the Kingdom, most of whom are affiliated with centres that teach robotics, such as the Eureka Tech Academy,” according to Noori.
Students used aspects from both mechanical and software engineering to create the robots since they are remote-controlled, and builds revolved around the theme of firefighting, so participants had to decide what kind of attachments and controllers to use.
A rule book was distributed and sent to all participating teams to try and ensure no robot was “overpowered”, he said, noting there were standard sizes and certain prohibited attachments, however, this did not eliminate uniqueness of design, quality of parts and special control schemes.
For example, participants could use fans, water or clothing to put out fires, but they were not allowed to use drones.
Two teams at a time deployed their robots in a maze-like field with walls and several ramps to test their robots’ ability to manoeuvre and climb.
Amer Jarrar, one of the participants representing Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT), said that he had participated in an experimental competition held in 2018, and when his team heard about this official competition, they started working immediately on a robot of their own.
“You can make your remote controller using Bluetooth to control the robot and move it around to finish tasks and obtain points, so we used a robotic arm with two degrees of freedom, meaning it can move at the elbow and has a wrist that can tighten or loosen its grip, which we used to hold the objects and put them in a container attached to the robot’s back,” Jarrar said.
He added that they used a motor with a fan attached to it in order to blow out the candles.
Suhaib Yamzash, who will start first secondary next academic year at Al Aqeeq International School, said he found out about the competition through social media.
He said that they designed their robot to fit the principles of the competition, using a gripper arm and a fan.
At the conclusion of the competition, team Rampage from PSUT won the first prize of JD300, team RoboRazors from Al Hasad Schools won the second prize of JD200 and team Negasonic Teenage Warhead, also from PSUT, won the third prize of JD100.
Other participating teams were also given consolation prizes to commemorate their participation and encourage them to take part in upcoming versions, according to Noori.
The IEEE RAS is a non-profit organisation, and works to advance the theory and practice of robotics and automation engineering, according to their Facebook page.