AUSTIN — A team of Texas A&M University at Qatar students and faculty has developed a state-of-the-art landmine detection robot and has brought it to Austin as part of the NI Mine Detection Robot Design Contest sponsored by the National Instruments Planet NI initiative. The contest challenged engineering students in the Middle East to work toward solutions to the real-life landmine problem that the Arab region and other areas face in the aftermath of conflict.
The Texas A&M at Qatar robot is currently the leading entry in the final stage of the competition. In this stage, the Texas A&M at Qatar team is at National Instruments Corporation in Austin Tuesday through Thursday (Aug. 2-4) to attend NIWeek 2011 http://www.ni.com/niweek/?metc=mtxrhy at the Austin Convention Center and to meet with National Instruments research and development personnel. NI Week 2011 is a conference and exhibition with more than 3,000 engineers and scientists from around the world.
The winning team will be announced in October.
The eight-wheel robot was fully designed and manufactured by a team of Texas A&M at Qatar students with the support of two faculty members, one engineer and two lab technicians. Its capabilities include carrying heavy payloads and performing search tasks in rugged terrain with rocks or other barriers. The robot can currently carry and actuate two mine search sensors, including a metal detector and ground-penetrating radar, wirelessly for up to two hours at a time. The robot is also equipped with a high-resolution camera for visual inspection of the field and can detect unexploded ordinates and above-surface mines.
The team for the contest, led by Dr. Mansour Karkoub, professor of mechanical engineering, consists of mechanical and electrical engineering subteams. The role of the mechanical subteam was to design, build and control the robot wirelessly. The electrical subteam interfaced the metal detector sensor and ground-penetrating radar and programmed the robot to perform automatic scanning of the field.
“The students have learned from this experience how to work on a humanitarian effort, perform tasks beyond classroom experience, put theories they have learned into practice and innovate solutions to engineering challenges,” Karkoub said.
Hussein Zahreddine, a mechanical engineering student on the team, said, “For engineering students, our engineering knowledge and skills are our capital, and I feel that I invested this capital efficiently when I joined the mine detection robot team. I learned to set deadlines for myself and meet them, as well as make decisions and apply changes without always going back to my supervisors and asking them about every detail.”
Planet NI is a National Instruments initiative aimed at encouraging economic development through providing technology to the developing world at an affordable cost. The goal of the NI Mine Detection Robot Design Contest is to bring visibility to the landmine problem that the developing world faces and to encourage engineering students to use their skills to create positive change in their communities. This goal aligns with Texas A&M at Qatar’s efforts to empower its students to “engineer a world of difference.”
For more on the National Instruments Planet NI initiative, see http://digital.ni.com/worldwide/arabia.nsf/web/all/7D2F5DA6CFCD0A8D8625766C0036B351?OpenDocument&node=35320_us