27 July 2008

Hong Kong’s First National Internet Robotics Inter-School Competition Held



Jointly organized by the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the Centre for Robotics and Technology Education (CRATE) at CUHK, and the Hong Kong Technology Education Association, the Shun Hing National Internet Robotics Inter-School (IRIS) Competition 2008 was held today (27 July) on CUHK campus. Entering its fourth year, the IRIS competition has for the first time extended beyond Hong Kong to include other major cities in mainland China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guangxi, Zhejiang and Macau.

After two months of intense competitions, a total of 60 primary and secondary school teams from Hong Kong and the mainland made it to the finals, which consisted of three categories. Students who entered IRIS1 had to control designated robots via the Internet to compete in a soccer game. In IRIS2, students had to build their own robots to compete in a soccer game. All contestants also had to use their creativity to design the appearance of their robots for entry into the third category - the IRIS Robots Design Competition. By participating in the IRIS competition, students acquired and practised Internet skills, robotics design abilities and techniques for operating information systems.

The competition was founded on the research findings of the CUHK Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering. The Internet is prone to network congestion due to overwhelming traffic. So if ordinary technology was used to control robots on the Internet, there would be delays. In view of this, the Department developed a visual positioning technique that calculates the motions of robotic players and streams real-time data over the Internet. Such technology reduces delay and allows contestants to control the remote robots smoothly and have a better game experience.

The two-day semi-finals and finals of the competition attracted over 300 participants and members of the public. After rounds of intense competition, Chang Pui Chung Memorial School and Toi Shan Association College emerged as the champions of IRIS1 and IRIS2 respectively, while Nanhai Guicheng Middle School and Chang Pui Chung Memorial School took home the championships in IRIS1 and IRIS2 Robots Design Competition respectively. Officiating guest Prof. Ching Pak-chung, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, was invited to present awards to the winning teams.

CUHK has been developing mechanical technology in close collaboration with academic institutes on the mainland. For example, the Harbin Institute of Technology, to which the Chief Executive Mr. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen recently paid a visit, has joined CUHK in developing a Micro Electrical Discharge Machining Machine to meet the demand of the watch industry for small, precision machined parts such as mechanical watch movements.

The latest innovations of CRATE were also showcased to the public. These included a robot golf game and a car racing game. Prof. Liu Yun-hui, director of CRATE, said, “The Centre’s mission is to promote robotics and technology education to students from both Hong Kong and the mainland. Besides organizing the IRIS competition, CRATE also organized two creative robotic camps for primary school students from the mainland and Hong Kong. During the five-day camp, students were given the chance to learn about basic robotics concepts and to build their own robots by writing programs.”

The camp for mainland students ended on 17 July. A group of 140 Hong Kong students will join the camp from 30 July to 3 August. Reception has been warm and all quotas were filled.

Website: www.erg.cuhk.edu.hk/iris

Chang Pui Chung Memorial School, champion of IRIS1, and Prof. Wong Kam-fai (left), Associate Dean, Faculty of Engineering, CUHK
Chang Pui Chung Memorial School, champion of IRIS1, and Prof. Wong Kam-fai (left), Associate Dean, Faculty of Engineering, CUHK

Toi Shan Association College, champion of IRIS2, and Prof. Yam Yeung (upper left), Chairman, Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, CUHK
Toi Shan Association College, champion of IRIS2, and Prof. Yam Yeung (upper left), Chairman, Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, CUHK

Nanhai Guicheng Middle School (4 on the right) and Chang Pui Chung Memorial School (4 on the left) took home the championships in IRIS1 and IRIS2 Robots Design Competition respectively
Nanhai Guicheng Middle School (4 on the right) and Chang Pui Chung Memorial School (4 on the left) took home the championships in IRIS1 and IRIS2 Robots Design Competition respectively

In IRIS2, students had to build their own robots to compete in a soccer game
In IRIS2, students had to build their own robots to compete in a soccer game


Some of the robot designs are inspired by the Beijing Olympics, such as these from the Shenzhen Experimental Middle School (left) and the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Chang Ming Thien College
Some of the robot designs are inspired by the Beijing Olympics, such as these from the Shenzhen Experimental Middle School (left) and the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Chang Ming Thien College

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