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Kids team up with robots in Dubai for larger good

Sarwat Nasir
Filed on October 27, 2019 | Last updated on October 27, 2019 at 05.49 am
 First Global Challenge,  robots, Dubai, robotic challenge.

(Juidin Bernarrd/KT)

More than 1,500 pupils from 191 countries are taking part in the First Global Challenge.

Students from around the world and their robots have descended on Dubai for the biggest robotic challenge. These robots are not designed to take over the world or the jobs of humans, but to make earth a better place. They do everything from saving the oceans to cleaning up the air. 

More than 1,500 pupils from 191 countries are taking part in the First Global Challenge that's happening at the Festival Arena till later today.

Minister of Education Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammad, Minister of Artificial Intelligence Omar Sultan Al Olama and Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi toured the competition venue on Saturday and were wowed by the robots and their creators' creativity.

Two massive tables which had student-built robots playing basketball stole the show.

Robot with the heart of a refugee

A team of refugees and their robots touched the hearts of many visitors at the competition.

The Syrian refugees aged 13 to 17 had two robots: 'Robogee', which educates people on the struggles of refugees; and another that can clean the ocean.

Amina Kabbour, 15, who now lives in Lebanon, said: "Our robot can raise awareness on the 70 million refugees around the world who are struggling every day. My family fled Syria about six to seven years ago and that is the life we have known. We live in a small home but there are many others like us who are living in refugee camps. It's important that we use platforms like these to raise awareness, and also display other robots that serve other important purposes like cleaning up our beautiful oceans."

This one can shoot hoops

A group of youngsters from Switzerland has built a robot that has about 70 to 80 per cent of accuracy during a basketball game. Their robot was on the game table, shooting some serious hoops. Nicolas Philippe Faesch, a student at the Kantonsschule Zurcher Oberland public school, said: "We have this roller that picks up a lot of small balls, then we use the lift to pull them up and store them where most of the balls are. We have a shooter that spins very fast and we drop into the wheel. We have participated in many global competitions, but are especially excited about being in Dubai."

Fighting water pollutants

Students from Pakistan's Nixor College built a robot that can collect water pollutants. It has an 80 per cent accuracy rate. Arsalan Hashmi, one of the pupils, said: "One of the main points of the First Global Challenge is to promote the idea that we should take care of the oceans. We have a robot that can catch the micro and macro pollutants. There are balls that represent that.

"Our robot involves two things: The first is suspending the robot from the centre of the arena, the second is to push the balls. Our robot can push the balls in the first levels, the corners and the second layer of the table."

Geared up for change

Members of Geared-Up Girls have been lugging their robot, Shakti (the Sanskrit word for power), around in a suitcase all morning for practice at Festival Arena. The all-girl team from India said Shakti can simultaneously pick up macro and micro pollutants in the ocean, thus saving time.

"Shakti is more reliable, consistent and versatile than the robots that we've practised against, so I believe we stand a very good chance of winning," said Lavanya Iyer, 15.

UAE team wants cleaner oceans

The UAE team is made of students from the Fujairah Secondary School. Their robot collects micro and macro pollutants from oceans and can also help other teams.

Shouq Saeed, a team member, said: "The robot is very functional and it does all of the tasks in the given timeline. We built it in 45 days. The time frame was narrow and that made it a challenge. We worked hard and tried over and over. We have won five matches so far and lost one, but we have three more remaining. I really think this competition helped me figure out what I want to study in the future. It has also helped me learn about other cultures."


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