Sharjah, UAE: A high-tech but low-cost robot that can detect gas leaks, is equipped with night-vision cameras and can be controlled easily over Wi-Fi has been developed by three students at Sharjah University with the aim of assisting Civil Defence crews in dangerous situations.
Syrians Mohammed Sirajeddin and Amir Moued along with Emirati Mohammed Almarzouqi built the robot as a graduation project for their engineering and computer science studies. The entire project from design to construction cost just over Dh18,000.
Although the idea of using a robot to help emergency services is nothing new, the machines often come with a substantial price tag. To keep costs down, the students used the free, open-source Android operating system widely used in smartphones. Its body is also made of cheap and durable metals and plastics.
“We want to put the UAE on the world map in robotic industries,” said Mr Sirajeddin, who worked on designing and building the robot for a year with his colleagues. “We faced a lot of logistical problems. Some people said we could not do it.”
The robot is equipped with night vision and gas and heat sensors. In a demonstration organised by Sharjah University, the machine showed its capabilities by accurately reporting the temperature in a room and also switched to night vision mode when the lights were switched off, which impressed officers.
When petrol was poured into the room, it was immediately detected by the robot, which also reported back accurate levels of different gases to operators.
“The robot is highly customisable,” said Mr Sirajeddin. “Civil defence can send the lightweight robot inside a building where it can transmit live video back to the operator, they can detect gas-leak levels, locations and the number of people trapped inside the building before deploying the teams.”
The robot, which weighs 35 kilograms and was built using materials imported from South Korea, China, and the US and assembled in the UAE, uses a wide-range secure Wi-Fi signal to communicate with the operator from a distance of up to 15 kilometres at this stage.
“Police can link the robot to a central database, and using the built-in camera on the robot, it can be used for facial recognition, that way, the police can identify what they are dealing with before sending in Swat teams,” said Mr Eddin.
The control system consists of a transmitter, receiver and a repeater (extender) to extend the range of communication as desired. “The transmitter is Samsung Galaxy Tab 3,” said Mr Eddin. “Using the Android operating system we will design a friendly user interface to let the user interact and control the robot comfortably.”
The students hope to launch their own company to be able to develop the robot to a more advanced level, securing funding to develop it for use in bomb disposal.
“We have so many plans for the feature,” said Mr Eddin. “We want to install an arm on the robot that can be used to open doors and suspicious letters.”
© The National
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