The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has hosted a trio of robotics competitions during the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in May 2011, in China. The contests were designed to demonstrate the feasibility of advanced microrobotics and robotics technologies.
The Mobile Microrobotics Challenge (MMC) was confronted by seven teams from the United States, Europe and Canada. Their miniature robots that had dimensions in micrometers were pitted against each other in the competition. MMC included a mobility challenge, in which the microbots had to navigate a sesame seed-sized maze. In another challenge, the teams had to assemble multiple microscale parts within a narrow channel. This was designed to simulate assembly-based micromanufacturing and surgeries within blood vessels.
The French team won the mobility event with a speed of 2.23 secs, while the University of Waterloo won the microassembly challenge. The University of California team won the Solutions in Perception Challenge, which tested the ability of the sensing software of the robots.
The mixed palletizing competition was held at the Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competition (VMAC). In a simulated environment, virtual robots had to pick up pallets, load trucks and steer around each other in a warehouse. Open-source evaluation tools were used to judge the plan of picking and arranging of boxes on a pallet. In another competition, the robot team’s ability to load pallets onto the trucks was tested. The mixed palletizing contest was won by Drexel University and the truck loading contest was won by Hood College.
A new video that showcases the robotics challenges hosted by NIST has been released.