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Warwick fields sole UK team in global robotics competition

09 May 2013

Of all the teams from 40 countries participating in the World RoboCup Rescue Championships 2013, the Warwick Mobile Robotics team is the only UK entry.

Warwick Mobile Robotics (WMR) is an undergraduate student project run by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick.

As part of their BEng MEng Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering degree, students must master modern technologies and skills such as robotics.

Each year a team develops a rescue robot to navigate a simulated collapsed building locating and helping victims autonomously and using tele-operation.

As such, WMR have been participating in the European RoboCup Rescue event since 2007, but this is the first time that the team has entered the worldwide event.

Each year the challenge is to deliver a greater level of performance. The 2013 team of six engineering students are building on the success of previous years that include achieving second place in 2012, first place in 2010 and Best in Class for Mobility for 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

The aim of the contest is to promote research and development into physical robotic agents for disaster search and rescue. The competition helps to increase awareness of the challenges involved in search and rescue applications, provide objective evaluation of robotic implementations in representative environments and promote collaboration between researchers.

The competitors are give a scenario, such as a devasted building, and the robot has to scout out the area and find as many victims as possible. They have to find their targets, determine their situation, state and location and then report back their findings.

Points are scored through victim identification using visual, thermal and audio. The robots have only 20 minutes to complete their mission. 

maxon motor UK is one of the WMR team's sponsors and component suppliers, and the company’s senior sales engineer, Paul Williams, has been advising the team on the use of maxon products.

A highly dexterous arm is an essential component for a successful teleoperated rescue robot. The arm controls the position and orientation of the head and manipulator Using maxon‘s high powered RE30 dc motors, combined with the GP32 gearhead, gives a powerful solution with low weight and low backlash drive.

maxon modified the output stage of the gearhead, to allow an additional worm and wheel to be fitted, to stop the arm back driving when the power was switched off.

The main chassis drive uses the RE50 dc motors fitted with GP 52 gearheads with encoder feedback, the 200W motors are highly efficient (94 percent) making the maximum use of the limited battery power.

The robot has recently been tested in Coventry at Northrop Grumman – Remotec UK's training ground for remote control miliary robots, where it performed well in the majority of tests for mobility, manipulation and manoeuvrability.

The most significant improvement on last year's design was the developed GUI, which allowed the blind tasks (where the operator was in a remote location to the testing area) to be completed quickly and more easily than before.

Robocup 2013 will be held in Eindhoven from the June 26 to July 1. For more information, click here. See the Warwick Mobile Robotics Rescue Robot in action here.

Sponsors this year have included the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, as well as maxon motor uk. Supporters are required for next years team and if you would like to offer some expertise or funding, please get in touch with the team by emailing

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