Uni colleagues battle each other in Swiss robot wars

After cleaning up at the UK Eurobot finals three teams of Middlesex Uni robotics students are fighting each other right now on the world stage

Eurobot is an international amateur robotics contest open to teams of two people under the age of 30.

Three Middlesex student teams were selected from the UK finals, where they triumphed over five other teams, beating entrants from other UK universities and a team from a commercial company.

The Middlesex teams now go forward to the Eurobot finals, competing with entrants from over 25 European and other countries for the chance to win the Eurobot trophy.

Middlesex University offers product design and robotics courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Courses have a particular focus on designing small-scale remote-controlled robots known as 'autonomous vehicles'.

Middlesex students have achieved great success in this area, winning the UK Eurobot finals for the past six successive years. Earlier this year, a Middlesex team also achieved world-wide recognition when they exhibited the 'Heineken Bot', a robot which can be programmed to move along a specified path and serve glasses of beer, at London's Kinetica Art Fair.

In the UK finals, held in April, the Eurobot teams faced the 'Feed the World' challenge, which involved designing an autonomous robot, which was then programmed to move along a track, collecting coloured balls, which represented different fruits. Each 'fruit' had a different points value - the teams with the highest number of points won the competition.

In a closely fought contest, the Middlesex students battled it out against each other for the top places in the UK finals.

'Norfolk'n'Chance' Middlesex student team Mantas Brazinskas & Michael Bowyer won two out of three matches, gaining first place, 'Woozy Bankers' Dominic Rowe and Witold Mielniczek (pictured, above) gained second place and Chris Barlow and Darren Lewis of 'Agent Orange' gained third place.

All three teams are currently taking part in the Eurobot finals this week, where they will play the 'Feed the World' challenge against ten times as many teams.

Dr Stephen Prior, principal lecturer in product design and engineering at Middlesex University, said: "We're thrilled to see our students reach the Eurobot world finals, after sweeping the board at the UK finals. The greatest test for the participants is to make a reliable machine that works every time and the competition results show that the hard work which all the teams put into their designs has really paid off."

Middlesex product design students have also competed in the MoD Grand Challenge 2008, building robotic systems designed to detect threats to soldiers in areas of urban conflict.

They have also participated in TV series such as 'Robot Wars' and 'The Gadget Show'. Middlesex has been involved in running the Eurobot competition since 2004 and in 2008 was awarded the James Dyson International Award for Product Design.

The Eurobot world finals take place in Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, from 26-30 May. The finals will be screened live over the web – visit the Eurobot website to learn more.

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