MARCH 2015
Pursuing Robotic Dreams Underneath the Water

Robotic technology has always been seen as a futuristic invention. At HKUST, a multi-disciplinary team of undergraduate students managed to build an underwater robot and won the championship for the 4th time in a regional competition in Asia.

The HKUST Remote Operated Vehicle Sub-team came first in the Explorer Class in the 9th Hong Kong/Asia Regional IET/MATE Underwater Robot Challenge. In wrapping up their 4th championship title, the team’s invention succeeded in the task of exploring and preserving the site of a shipwreck, including diving in the dark and lifting a heavy Danforth anchor.

The joy for victory amplifies in the team’s sharing act. The team of students have previously served as tutors to visually-impaired students from Ebenezer School and offered robot-making training classes with an overwhelming response. The HKUST students ignited the secondary students with their passion on robots during the school’s Science Week. Inspired, 12 primary and secondary students decided to form two teams and build their own robot with the assistance of HKUST faculty and students. To simply navigation controls for the physically-challenged students, the HKUST team helped them to build a robot with a water pump instead of a propeller system. What was once seemed impossible to them finally came true when the two teams scooped the first runner-up and a special award in the Scout Class of the competition while competing against sighted students. HKUST’s student tutors were as thrilled as the Ebenezer School’s students upon hearing the news.

Prof Kam-tim Woo, Director of HKUST School of Engineering’s Center for Global & Community Engagement, was pleased with the encouraging outcome. He said: “I believe the diverse background of our team members and careful planning are the two major success factors for them to win the competition. We hope our engineering students will continue to integrate their engineering knowledge in social projects and services for the community.”

Underwater robot built by HKUST Robotics Team.