WWF and CityU jointly organize First Underwater Robot Challenge

Posted 01 February 2006
WWF and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) are co-organizing the Hong Kong Underwater Robot Challenge (HKURC), the first of its kind in Hong Kong. The URC is an annual event originated in California, US, by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre and the Monterey Bay Aquarium since 2002.

The contest demonstrates the commitment of both parties to transferring technology to secondary school students and raising their interest in marine conservation.

“WWF is pleased to collaborate with CityU on this underwater robot competition. We wish to spread the important message of marine conservation to our young generations and inspire the young scientists to use high technology to help protect our marine resources in the future. Our marine environment is at stake and we need immediate actions to save our seas,” said Mr Eric Bohm, CEO, WWF Hong Kong.

Dr Robin Bradbeer, Associate Professor at the Department of Electronic Engineering (EE) of CityU, is very keen on passing the robotics technology to young generations and she thus initiates the HKURC. “CityU has been involved in underwater robotics research for over 10 years. We have produced a number of underwater robots and have acquired a well-known reputation for innovation,” said Dr Bradbeer. “In addition, I have supervised two teams of CityU students to take part in the Robocon Hong Kong Contest in 2004 and that was a wonderful experience for the University and the students.”

CityU has worked closely with WWF at Hoi Ha Wan since 2003. The remote operated vehicles and instrumentation developed by EE are used in the ongoing measurement of the underwater environment and the monitoring of the coral reefs and marine species in Hong Kong waters. “We wish to further deepen our relationship with WWF by co-organizing this contest to enhance local schools’ awareness in marine conservation,” she said. “It is not just about biology, but also technology. Through the introduction of technology, we may arouse secondary school kids’ care for marine conservation. And robotics is fun!” she added.

Form 5 and Form 6 secondary students are eligible to form teams to participate in the HKURC. A basic robot in kit form will be provided for each team free of charge. Workshops will then be arranged for these teams to learn how to build an underwater robot and modify the basic design to accomplish two or three tasks set in the contest. Each robot will be controlled on shore by joysticks. Winners will be selected upon the criteria of how well and how fast the tasks are completed.

Please visit the event website http://www.ee.cityu.edu.hk/rovcontest/ for details. Registration via the website is welcome. Interested parties could also contact Mr Kenneth Ku at 2788 9965 (kkku@ee.cityu.edu.hk) or Dr Robin Bradbeer at 2788 7199 (eersbrad@cityu.edu.hk) for further information. As the number of participating teams is limited, registration will be made on first-come-first-served base. The closing date is 10 February.

Subject to the availability of sponsorship, the HKURC champion team will travel to Singapore to compete at the regional contest in May at the Oceans 2006 Asia conference and exhibition. The team may also have the opportunity to compete with other finalists in the International Finals, which will be held in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Centre, Texas, US in June 2006.

For media enquiries, please contact Cindy Hui, Communications Office, City University of Hong Kong at 3442 6802 or 9045 4950.