THERE were claps and cheers on the ground floor of the National Science Centre in Kuala Lumpur as fans screamed for their favourite teams at the 2018 National Robot Combat competition.
Themed “Resist or Surrender”, the mechanical duel was jointly organised by the science centre and My Robotsz Enterprise.
The arena was packed as 32 teams, comprising 250 students from various higher-learning institutions, pitted their brainchild against each other in a battle of skill, ingenuity and sturdiness.
After the final round of thuds, clashes and explosions, the entry by team Institut Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) Mersing of Johor was the last robot standing.
The first runner-up went to the team from Bukit Mertajam National Youth Skills Training Institute in Penang, followed by Universiti Putra Malaysia as the second runner-up.
The contest also evaluated the aesthetic value of the robots and their functionality (engineering) aspects.
For these, the robot by Batu Pahat Community College in Johor was deemed the “prettiest” after winning the Best Design Award, while the Bukit Mertajam National Youth Skills Training Institute scored double victory when they also won the Best Engineering Award.
The 2018 National Robot Combat competition aimed to test the practical knowledge of tertiary students in basic mechatronics and engineering.
They had to use their creativity and innovativeness in building their battlebots, which could spell victory or defeat when facing a competitor.
The closing ceremony was officiated by Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry deputy secretary-general (science) Associate Professor Dr Ramzah Dambul.
He said the competition was a platform to promote interest in robotics, which was a vital technological convergence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“It is important to ensure a continuous succession of experts in science, engineering and technology. They are key drivers of growth for the nation.
“Students must be encouraged to love science if we want to produce more scientists,” he said.
Automotive technology instructor Mohd Fahmin Mohamad, a member of the champion team, said he saw the competition as an opportunity to develop his students’ skill in building robots.
His team consisted of four lecturers and five students.
“The most challenging part is time investment and the effort we poured into the project despite our busy schedules. We built the robot at night as our days were packed with other commitments.
“A night before the competition, we had to rebuild our robot after it broke. One of the broken parts was the weapon. We stayed up to 1am to fix it.”
Their invention, called Todak, is named after a landmark in their hometown.
Mohd Fahmin said they purposely built their robot with only two wheels in front as a strategy to overcome their competitors.
It took them two months to build and programme it, beginning from the drawing board up to the fabrication and installation of parts.
Fahmin said 80 per cent of the robot was built by the students as the instructors wanted to encourage them with more hands-on experience.
He credited his colleague, Norazizi Mohd Saleh, for teaching the students about the robot’s wiring.
Previously, the team had won first place with an 8kg robot at a match in Kuantan, Pahang. This time, they won top spot with a bigger, meaner 45kg robot.
The team members spent RM3,000 to develop their robot for the recent competition, which was good investment since their prize money was RM5,000.