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Penn Engineering to Compete in MAGIC 2010 in Australia
November 24, 2009, Volume 56, No. 13


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Students in the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science have been chosen to compete in the Multi-Autonomous Ground Robotics International Challenge (MAGIC) 2010 competition. The Penn team, led by Dr. Daniel Lee, the Evan C Thompson Endowed Term Professor for Excellence in Teaching, will travel to a remote location in Australia and map a half-kilometer-square space of uncharted territory using only team-built robots.

“The materials we use include wheels from remote-control vehicles and sensors from cameras,” Dr. Lee said. “In order to maintain our tight budget, smart software is more important than expensive parts.” The vehicles have a 40-kilogram weight limit, and, Dr. Lee said, the team will build multiple models.

Penn is one of 10 university/industry teams to receive $50,000 in seed money to pursue their technology submissions. In addition to Penn, and four other teams from the US, engineers from Australia, Canada, Japan and Turkey will also compete in MAGIC 2010.

Dr. Lee, part of Penn’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Lab, (GRASP) an interdepartmental engineering initiative, was previously involved in the Urban Challenge of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Almanac September 25, 2007).

The event will be hosted by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Australian Department of Defence’s (ADOD) Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

“We are excited to move on to the next step in this collaborative, competitive process,” TARDEC Director Dr. Grace M. Bochenek said. “MAGIC 2010 will lead to groundbreaking robotics research in critical new arenas that will address operational challenges, increase energy security and save soldiers’ lives.”

MAGIC 2010 will be held November 8-13, 2010, in the Australian wilderness. First-, second- and third-place teams will take home $750,000, $250,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Between now and next June, MAGIC judges will visit the semi-finalists to cut the field down to five finalists; each of which will receive an additional $50,000 to complete their entries.


Almanac - November 24, 2009, Volume 56, No. 13