Video: The University of Waterloo's microrobot navigating the course at the Mobile Microrobotics Challenge in Karlsruhe, Germany.
WATERLOO, ON, May 17, 2013 /CNW/ - A team of undergraduate students from
the University of Waterloo has won a significant microrobotics
competition, and they did it in less than one second.
The Mobile Microrobotics Challenge took place at the International
Conference on Robotics and Automation in Karlsruhe, Germany. The
Waterloo team won the Autonomous Mobility Challenge, where the
microrobots must autonomously navigate a track in the shape of a figure
"This winning team consists of engineering students who were supported
by colleagues from arts and math. The fact that they worked together so
well to win this competition speaks to the collaborative spirit and
multidisciplinary approach we take at Waterloo," said Feridun
Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. "They
surpassed graduate students and postdoctoral candidates from other top
universities, which is indicative of their work ethic and high skill. I
congratulate them on their victory."
The microrobots were 500 micrometres in size—less than the thickness of
a credit card—and competed in an arena measuring 3.5 millimetres by 2
millimetres. Waterloo's team finished three runs with a winning average
time of .33 seconds. Organizers set up a microscope over the tiny arena
and projected the race onto a large screen so that spectators could see
Matthew Maclean, a third-year student in software engineering, was the
controller for the Waterloo team—much like being the driver for a
racing team. He controlled the microrobot with computer code, and says
precise movements are critical in order to avoid catastrophe.
"When you have something that small, if you are a few milliseconds too
slow when controlling the robot, it could end up off the course at a
distance 100 times its size," said Maclean. "We do lose the robots from
time to time when testing because it's like trying to find a speck of
The implications of this performance can lead to progressive leaps in
the development of micro-scale applications including targeted drug
delivery, minimally invasive surgery and advanced electronics
The Waterloo team consists of about 45 undergraduate students, and works
under the University of Waterloo Nanorobotics Group, or UW_NRG. The
students defeated six other teams from Canada, the United States,
France and the Czech Republic. This is the second year a Waterloo team
has won this competition.
A video of the Waterloo team's microrobot in action at the competition
is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93cH4wOQaMI&feature=youtu.be
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart
of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading
comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in
undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's
largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its
connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in
learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is
committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by
championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant
to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about
Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.
Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide
broadcast-quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio.
Please contact Pamela Smyth at 519.888.4777 for more information.
Video with caption: "Video: The University of Waterloo's microrobot navigating the course at the Mobile
Microrobotics Challenge in Karlsruhe, Germany.". Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93cH4wOQaMI&feature=youtu.be
Image with caption: "Magnified image of the University of Waterloo's winning microrobot on the course at the Mobile Microrobotics Challenge in Karlsruhe, Germany. (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130517_C8108_PHOTO_EN_26868.jpg
SOURCE: University of Waterloo
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Media Relations Officer
Communications & Public Affairs
University of Waterloo