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In the trenchesStudents develop landmine detection robot

Published 25 July 2011

A team of Texas A&M University at Qatar students and faculty has developed a state—of-the-art landmine detection robot as part of the NI Mine Detection Robot Design Contest; The competition 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

Engineering students design and manufacture state-of-the-art landmine detection robot as part of the NI Mine Detection Robot Design Contest.

A team of Texas A&M University at Qatar students and faculty has developed a state-of-the-art landmine detection robot as part of the NI Mine Detection Robot Design Contest sponsored by the National Instruments Planet NI initiative. The competition 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 competitor in the final stage of the competition.

Texas A&M University at Qatar release reports that tThe 8-wheel robot was fully designed and manufactured by Texas A&M at Qatar students. 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 sub-teams. The role of the mechanical sub-team was to design, build and control the robot wirelessly. The electrical sub-team interfaced the metal detector sensor and ground penetrating radar and programed 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,” said Karkoub, project advisor.

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.”

As the current frontrunners in the competition, the Texas A&M at Qatar team will travel to Austin, Texas, in August to showcase the robot at NI Week 2011, a conference and exhibition with over 3,000 engineers and scientists from around the world.