ABU Robocon

I can not recall any interest in robotics during my school time, and even until I graduated from the university. It was not until I attended a workshop at Bangkok that I started to have my interest in robotics. That was in May 2000. It was the “Regional Workshop on Industrial Applications of Control Technology: Mechatronics” conducted at the Thai-French Innovation Center, Bangkok, Thailand. During the workshop, I had the opportunity to see some robotic projects and visited some of their mechatronic facilities. Though brief, they were interesting exposures for me. In addition, the Indonesian participant in the workshop shared his experience in robotic projects. With his active participation in international robotic competitions, he has developed relationship and collaboration with researchers from Japan. Something that I would dream for. Few months later, in Sep 2000, I saw an exhibition of a Singapore university at the 1st APEC Youth Camp held at Ulsan, Korea. The Singapore university exhibited a student project on obstacle avoidance robot. That was interesting and more importantly seem doable for us! With these exposures, I initiated a project in Obstacle Avoidance Vehicle in the following year. It was a modification to a remote control car and wasn’t really close to a ‘robot’. Nevertheless, an important start. I still remember the student vividly. Lee Kin Foo is the first student who worked on my robotic project. It was with Kin Foo that I learned to use the Eagle PCB Layout Editor and the Microchip PIC microcontroller.

One day in January 2003, I was called to the Principal’s office. Cikgu Nazamshah, the Principal at that time, passed me two Takraw balls and asked if I would like to participate in the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Robot Contest (Robocon). Could this be a dream come true? Participation in an international (well, regional to be more specific) robotic competition?! I understand the balls reached MKJB, a college, after other local higher institutions declined to participate. I knew we only had about six months to work on it, from scratch. However, it was an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. Without appropriate facility and without relevant knowledge and experience, apart from the Obstacle Avoidance Vehicle, we then had to make robots that would stand at 3 metres high. I picked my army and kicked start the project. Seven men, months of sleepless nights, we ventured into the Robocon! We shivered when we saw the others’ robots in the given demo CD. We were uncertain if we would make it to the competition as we were searching for parts and ideas, while others were creating and improving their robots. However, we persisted. It was this persistence that made us to carry Brunei’s flag, for the first time, in an international robotic competition.

Since then we, at MKJB, continued to work on robotic projects, as well as other engineering projects. Over the years, Jemee has became my best team mate after Terry moved to Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd. As I try to learn more on robotics, my interest in it also grows. MKJB has represented Brunei in ABU Robocon for five consecutive years, and was unbeatable in Robocon locally. I participated, with my teams, in Robocon 2003, 2005 and 2006. I missed Robocon 2004 as I was at UK doing MSc. I joined UBD in March 2007. After two years in UBD, I managed to start up robotics in the Faculty of Science (FOS) and set up a simple robotic lab. With a few students, we worked on Robocon and a few other robotic projects.

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Robot Contest (ABU Robocon)

Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Robocon is an annual robot contest starting from 2002, just for university/college students in the Asia-Pacific region. Under a common set of rules, participants will compete with their peers in other countries to create robots using their creative and technological abilities in an open competition. This contest aims to create friendship among young people with similar interests who will lead their countries in the 21st Century, as well as help advance engineering and broadcasting technologies in the region. This event will be broadcast in participating countries through an ABU member broadcaster. In Brunei Darussalam, Radio Television Brunei is a member broadcaster in ABU.

The changing theme of Robocon each year introduces new challenges each year. Overcoming new challenges is a way to make progress. Having to work in conformation to the preset requirements/rules, rather than setting own requirements to work on, is what makes Robocon a tough challenge.

– | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010Wikipedia Info | –

ABU Robocon 2002: “Reach for the top of Mt. Fuji”
31 Aug 2002 | Tokyo, Japan

The aim of this contest is to compete for points by placing beach balls into seventeen “Tubes” which they have “reach the summit”, that is, when five consecutive “Tubes” are occupied in a diagonal line, which must also include the highest center “Summit” Tube(which represents the top of Mt. Fuji). The duration of each match is three minutes. The overall tournament involved preliminary and final rounds.

This was the first ABU Robocon.  RTB attended the event, however there was no Brunei participation.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results

ABU Robocon 2003: “Takraw Space Conqueror”
24 Aug 2003 | Bangkok, Thailand

The aim of this contest is to shoot Takraw Balls into 9 baskets comprised of 3 nets in a triangular shape to compete for points. A team is considered the winner when the balls are shot into all baskets including 3 nets of centered basket or when one team scores more point than the opponent. The duration of each game is 3 minutes.

The year we learned about the ABU Robocon when the Science, Technology and Environment Partnership (STEP) Center in the Ministry of Education approached MKJB to solicit Brunei participation. This was the first time Brunei participated in Robocon. Brunei was represented by the SAMOT team from MKJB. Imagine driving a 25kg machine with 3V motors. Well, that was how we started. Despite being a really tough task, the SAMOT team gave their full commitment to deliver the robots. These robots had to pass stringent tests before they were allowed to play on the field. At Bangkok, Brunei drawn to play against Malaysia (represented by Univesiti Teknologi Malaysia) and Korea (represented by Chungnam National University). Both teams were much stronger than us, and would easily beaten us. However, due to an accidental contact by the manual operator of the Korean team with our manual robot, the Korean team was disqualified and Brunei declared winner in this match. It wasn’t how we wanted to win a match.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Documentary | The Team

ABU Robocon 2004: “Reunion of Separated Lovers, ‘Gyeonwoo and Jiknyeo'”
11 Sep 2004 | Seoul, Korea

The theme of this contest is based on a love story in Asian legend. A couple called ‘Gyeonwoo & Jiknyeo’ are forced to be apart from each other with the Milky Way between them due to their laziness. Magpies and crows which feel sorry for the couple fly up to the sky and build a bridge with their bodies to get the couple together. It is called ‘Ojak Bridge’ (Bridge of Crow and Magpie). The couple get together by crossing ‘Ojak Bridge’ once a year, on July 7th by lunar calendar. It always rains on this day and we say that it is the tears of joy from Gyeonwoo and Jiknyeo for their reunion. The aim of this contest is to compete for accomplishing “Reunion” by completing the unfinished bridge and carrying Golden Gift by Automatic Machine from “Gyeonwoo Zone (Zone A)” to “Jiknyeo Zone (Zone B)”. The duration of each match is three minutes.

The second year MKJB represented Brunei at ABU Robocon. Another local institution, Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College (or Maktab Teknik Sultan Saiful Rijal MTSSR) expressed interest in participating and an informal local competition (or selection) was held. MKJB’s robots appeared more convincing to the judges and was selected to represent Brunei at Seoul. This year, SAMOT team from MKJB played against Chungnam National University of Korea (again!) and Academic Center for Education Culture and Research of Iran. Despite having builded much better robots than the previous year, the opponent teams proved to be much stronger than us. We have a great deal to improve. I did not supervise the SAMOT team in 2004. SAMOT 2004 was supervised by Norjemee.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Official Website | The Team

ABU Robocon 2005: “Climb on the Great Wall, Light the holy fire”
27 Aug 2005 | Beijing, China

The Great Wall is one of the greatest feats of construction the world has ever seen. This ancient monument is not only a cultural heritage site with great significance for China, but also a major tourist attraction, known all around the world. Foreign tourists know that a visit to China is not complete without a trip to the Great Wall, a symbol of China’s ancient civilization and humankind’s powerful ability to shape our surroundings. There is an old Chinese saying: “You are not truly a strong man until you have climbed to the top of the Great Wall”. Now let’s climb up the Beacon Tower of the Great Wall and light the holy fire there! The aim of this contest is to climb the Great Wall and feed Fuel Balls into five Torches and four Bonfires by collaboration between Manual and Automatic machines. The duration of each match is three minutes.

SAMOT team again defeated the team from MTSSR in a well organized local competition held at the auditorium of MTSSR. With extra-ordinary committment and determination from this year’s team members, SAMOT’s robots had seen great improvement. Five autonomous robots, fitted within an area of 1x1m, and one manual robot were builded. The team was determined to win at Beijing. Well. When we drawn to play against Vietnam and China in the preliminary round, we knew we were given tough challenge again. Vietnam is a three times champion in Robocon (was two times by 2005). Vietnam was represented by Hanoi University of Technology. China was represented by University of Scinece & Technology Beijing (and another team) which ended as 1st runner up in Robocon 2005. Despite losing to both teams, SAMOT had shown its great potential and was awarded the Toyota Award.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Documentary | Thriller | Official Website | The Team

ABU Robocon 2006: “Building the World’s Tallest Twin Tower”
10 Sep 2006 | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The 88-storey 452m high PETRONAS Twin Towers (KLCC) is currently the tallest twin towers in the world and the most prominent landmark of Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Located strategically in the heart of vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, this largely steel and glass structure soon become a must-to-see place for visitors to the city. Interestingly, the two towers are connected by the skybridge for visitors who wish to have a glimpse of Kuala Lumpur from the top. Its completion in 1995 signifies one of the milestones towards Malaysia achieving Vision 2020.The twin towers house the PETRONAS corporate headquarters and offices. The Suria Mega Shopping Mall is designed as a hub of retail and entertainment. The contemporary offerings of the Dewan Philharmonic add the kaleidoscope of activities of the Twin Towers. Well planned parks, greens and gazebos reflect the possible harmonious balance of nature and steel that design can create.

The main objective of this contest is to simulate the construction of the twin towers and its surrounding by a team of robots using polystyrene builder blocks. The first team to complete one of the twin towers and two ‘skybridge’ towers thus considered “SIAP” will be the winner. Duration of the game is three minutes.

”SIAP” is the Malay word for fit or available for action or use.

Another year SAMOT team represented Brunei at ABU Robocon after defeating its local opponent from MTSSR. This is the first year when a full game field was build for the local competition. At the local competition, the SAMOT team achieved SIAP in 1 minute 27 seconds! After three years of experience, SAMOT’s robots have became stable and reliable. Various technical problems were resolved. Mechanical aspect remained our major weakness as the SAMOT team had been comprised of members from the Department of Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering. At Kuala Lumpur, SAMOT was again tested with tough matches in the preliminary round. Brunei drawn to play against Multimedia University of Malaysia and Xi’an Jiaotong University of China. We lost both matches. Xi’an Jiaotong University later emerged as the 2nd runner up, while Multimedia University received the Best Engineering Award. Further hard works on our side are definitely needed to beat teams from major universities (and higher institutions) around the region.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | The Team

ABU Robocon 2007: “Halong Bay Discovery”
26 Aug 2007 | Hanoi, Vietnam

The legend of Ha Long has it that, “Once upon a time, soon after the Viet people established their country, invaders came. The Jade Emperor sent Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons down to earth to help the Viet people fight against their enemy. Right at the time invaders’ boats were rushing to the shore, the dragons landed down on earth. The dragons immediately sent out from their mouths a lot of pearls, which then turned into thousands of stone islands emerging in the sea like great walls challenging the invaders’ boats. The fast boats couldn’t manage to stop and crashed into the islands and into each other and broke into pieces. After the victory, Mother Dragon and Child Dragons didn’t return Heaven but stayed on earth at the place where the battle had occurred. The location Mother Dragon landed is nowadays Ha long Bay and where Child Dragons descended is now Bai Tu Long. Ha Long is the wonderful and skilful masterpiece of the Creation and of nature that only Vietnam was bestowed. Ha Long has become the pride of not only the locals but also of all Vietnamese people when it was twice recognized as the World Natural Heritage by UNESCO for its geographical and geomorphologic values. With its unique beauty, Ha Long is one of the most ideal destinations in Vietnam. The rules of Robocon 2007 are built basing on this legend of Ha Long. A team of robots(symbolizing dragons) will carry the blocks having the shape of cylinder(symbolizing pearls) to build various kinds of islands symbolizing “Ha Long”; and “Bai Tu Long” .The first team to complete the building of “Victory islands”( in the shape of letter V in the centre of the Game Field) will be the winner. Duration of the game is three minutes.

I moved to UBD in 2007. SAMOT team in 2007 was lead by Jemee. There was no local competition in 2007. SAMOT represented Brunei at ABU Robocon for 5th consecutive year. At Hanoi, SAMOT played against Kanazawa Institute of Technology of Japan and University of Peradeniya from Sri Lanka in the preliminary round. This year saw Brunei’s first winning match at ABU Robocon. SAMOT team defeated the team from Sri Lanka. The Japan team later received the Best Engineering Award.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Official Website | The Team

ABU Robocon 2008: “Govinda”
31 Aug 2008 | Pune, India

The contest theme is based on Indian mythology related to Lord Krishna (a Hindu deity) and the festival of Dahi-Handi, celebrated annually in northern part of India. Born as a prince and brought up into a cowherd family, Krishna is often referred to as “Govinda”. As children, Govinda and his friends used to raid kitchens in search of milk, butter (Makhkhan) and cheese (Paneer). They also used to tease young girls (Gopis) carrying pots (Matka) filled with water, milk, butter, or cheese on their heads.

A common practice in rural India is to suspend these pots (containing Cheese, Butter and Milk) from beams high in the ceiling out of reach of cats. During the day when the men were busy in the fields and the womenfolk busy with outdoor chores, the naughty and adventurous Govinda along with his band of friends would form a human pyramid to reach these pots and help themselves to the contents.

Two (2) opposing teams (a Red team and a Blue team) will operate Manual machines and Autonomous machines and attempt to get at the pots of butter placed at a height and remove the large cube of Butter (Makhkhan) from the bowls. A few of the machines would also attempt to “Steal” the Earthen Pots (Matkas) containing balls of Cheese (Paneer) being carried by the Young Girls (Gopis). Points are earned when the Butter is removed from the Bowls placed at a height. Points could also be earned when a Pot and/or Cheese is transferred to a Basket. The team which picks up all the three butter cubes directly from the bowls and holds them in the air will be declared “GOVINDA” (the winner) and the game will be over. If no team becomes “GOVINDA”, the team which accumulates more number of points within the specified time of three (3) minutes will be declared as the

Brunei did not participate. There was no participating team.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | TOC

ABU Robocon 2009: “Travel Together for the Victory Drums”
22 Aug 2009 | Tokyo, Japan

The contest theme for TOKYO ROBOCON is ‘Travel Together for the Victory Drums’. Its aim is to clear tasks by close cooperation between human (operator and manual robot) and (automatic) robots. The theme is conceived by the traditional Japanese palanquin ‘Kago’, in which people used to be carried to travel long distance in pre-modern era. In the game, two machines –an automatic robot in front and manual robot and operator in back will carry smaller automatic traveller robot in Kago and start a journey. It is a long and winding road ahead – they have to pass mountains and go through wood without dropping their traveller in swinging Kago and head for the Victory Drums.

Travel Together for the Victory Drums is a game based on an imaginary journey of olden days using the Kago palanquin. An Automatic Carrier Robot in the front and a Manual Carrier Robot in the rear shall cooperate to carry an automatic Traveller Robot in a Kago to the goal with the aim of completing the journey before the other team. Various tasks stand in the way, including a Mountain Pass and Woods. The Kago and Traveller Robot must not be dropped. The Traveller Robot must beat the three Victory Drums when it reaches the Goal Zone. The three traditional Japanese drums are arranged vertically on a platform. The team that beats all three drums first is the winner. Each match is contested by red and blue teams. A match lasts three minutes.

Five years back, in MKJB, I started with a reasonably large workshop floor space, basic tools, few great fighters, however without prior experience. In UBD, I am starting with some experience, however with uncertainty in floor space, facilities and the army. After a year working in UBD, I started Robocon project in UBD. The two biggest challenges were space and army. With the support from the faculty, I could overcome the problem of facilities. I wasn’t sure if we would have a space to do the project. We started at any space we could use. Significantly more challenging was I was not sure if I would get good fighters.

Did UBD make it to ABU Robocon 2009? Yes, but not …

I managed to put up a team of seven students to kick off with the Robocon project in UBD. Getting ‘fighters’ for Robocon proved to be a challenge in UBD. We started in Dec 2008 during the semester break. Working space was a challenge and I booked the lecture room FSM 2.15/2.16 in the Faculty of Science (FOS) building.

The technical challenge appeared to be a completely new one. It required that the three robots are physically connected – two robots carry one robot in a carriage (‘Kago’). The game field incorporated a ‘hill’ requiring the robots to travel up and down slopes. Balancing the three robots (including one being carried in between) while going up and down slopes posed the greatest difficulty to start with. An idea was finally arrived at and the first prototype was build during this semester break. The team used the lecture room FSM 2.17 to test the line tracing of the first prototype. Towards the end of the semester break, only four students remained in the team. Three of the initial seven students decided to pull out from the highly demanding project. It was partly anticipated. Only ‘fighters’ who wanted to prove themselves can survive the demand of Robocon project.

New semester started in Jan 2009 and we had to move out of the lecture rooms. Having no alternative, we moved into my shared office at the HEP (student affairs) building. We used one vacant cubicle to put our stuff. This became the “Hong’s Robotic Cubicle” in UBD. It measures at about 3x3m. The office is probably about 17x8m partitioned into 9 cubicles. The game field required a clear space of 12×12.6m. To test the robots, we used the remaining walking space, where mountain pass and tracks were laid. The walkway outside the office and the benches in front of the ATM machines outside the office had became workshop where the team worked with metal pieces. The team persisted to continue working on the robots.

The two carrier robots were eventually completed and more problems were identified. A redesign was done. The robots were eventually able to travel through the mountain pass, individually. However, when they were connected (by the ‘Kago’) we have not been able to coordinate their speed. Time flies. It was soon the next semester break and fast approaching the anticipated local competition. The two robots were still having problems – mainly mechanical. Added to the challenge, staff in the HEP office were asked to move to another building. We had to move our stuff to the previous UNISSA building. We were concerned of the time lost when every minute was counting. On the other hand, we were delighted to be given a big lab – G.38. This became the first “Robotic Lab” in UBD, unofficially. It is my Robolab V1. The lab measures around 7x6m capable of accommodating half of the game field. The hard work continued in this ‘new’ robotic lab.

We were not able to fix the problems of the robots when travelling up the slope. Mechanical aspect remained our major weakness. The team could only get through the slope in very few times and had not been able to complete the game within 3 minutes. The local competition was on 13 Jun and two teams were to compete for the opportunity to represent Brunei at ABU Robocon at Tokyo, Japan. We competed with the all time local champion, Jefri Bolkiah College of Engineering (JBCE or MKJB). Robots from both were having similar problems – boarding and crossing. At the time of whistle ending the game, our team’s robots were attempting to cross the mountain pass while our opponent’s robots were struggling with boarding task. Our team won the local competition, merely.

As like in previous years, the team continued to improve the robots while waiting for approval from the Ministry to compete at the ABU Robocon at Tokyo, Japan. Rather unfortunately, due to the H1N1 situation, the relevant authority ‘cancelled’ our participation at Tokyo … It was a disappointment to the team, who has worked hard days and nights … The team was deprived the opportunity to meet and learn from other teams. Nevertheless, the team has proved themselves winners in UBD, in Brunei.

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Official Website | The Team

ABU Robocon 2010: “Robo-Pharaohs Build Pyramids”
22 Sep 2010 | Cairo, Egypt

Robo-Pharaohs Build Pyramids is the main theme of this contest. The idea is based on a virtual time machine that takes ancient Egyptian Great-Pyramids builders inside classrooms of technical schools. The new target is to build parts of the three Pyramids in sequence. Competing team members should be accurate, fast and cooperative. They should adhere to the main requirement of not using binding material between blocks. The winner team is the “Robo-Pharaoh” which succeeds to finish building assigned parts of the three Pyramids first. During three minutes, red and blue teams compete in order to mimic one of the surviving Seven World Wonders.

Coming soon …

Rule Animation | Rule | This is Robocon | Results | Photos | Official Website