Exploring the amazing world of AI and robotics in Dubai

The 3rd UAE Drones for Good Award and UAE AI/Robotics for Good Award are back

18:09 February 17, 2017
Mathew Cochran
Marsi Bionics
A robot able to detect tubes anomalies.
Sam Payne from Open Bionics display a robotic hand.

Dubai: Robotic hands for amputees, a gait exoskeleton for children who can’t walk, unmanned rovers for relief operations — these are but a few of the artificial intelligence and robotics vying for the UAE Artificial Intelligence/Robotics for Good Award on Saturday.

Now in its second year as part of the 3rd UAE Drones for Good Award, the UAE AI/Robotics for Good Award aims to support innovation in the key area of artificial intelligence and robotics focusing on their practical use for society’s greater good in areas such as health, education and social services.

Organised by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund, the Award offers winners in the AI/Robotics in the National category a chance to win Dh1 million while $1 million (Dh3.67 million) is up for grabs in the International category. The same goes for the Drones Award.

Some 20 best teams from the UAE and around the globe demonstrated their robots despite unstable weather conditions at the Dubai Internet City on Friday. The final demonstration of the 20 finalists for the Drones for Good Award is scheduled on Saturday.

The finalists were selected from a massive 1,017 entries sent from 165 countries.

“In terms of the quality of submissions and quality of participation, what we’ve seen year on year is improvement in terms of the quality of teams and in terms of presentation and teamwork, in addition to the actual final quality of the drones or the robotics they presented. It’s an indicator of how [popular] the awards have become in the community and with people from across the globe applying. We have 35 per cent year-on-year increase in applicants,” Omar Al Mahmoud, ICT Fund CEO, told Gulf News.

“The youngest of all applicants are two high school students who are competing with multinational companies and universities. This only shows that the younger generation is also coming up with new innovative ideas,” he added.

Ammar Malik, executive director of Dubai Internet City and lead sponsor of the event, said robotics and AI technologies are regarded today as the “next step to humanity’s journey towards the future of promoting social good”.

He added: “With over 300,000 employed around the globe in industrial robotics, we are proud to be providing a first-of-its-kind global platform that focuses on the benefit of society and our local business ecosystem.”


Some highlights from the National category

1) B-Motion: A thought-controlled wheelchair

Category: Health

By: Noor Fakhr, Mohammad Noor, Omar Mohammadi, and Abdullah Fakhr (graduates of Ajman University)

What it is: For quadriplegic patients who have paralysed limbs, this wheelchair allows them to go where they want to go without moving a joystick or chin stick. If you can think it, you can do it with this wheelchair.

The user wears an Emotiv EEG Neuroheadset with multiple electrodes, which is connected to signal processing circuits. The data acquired by the brain signals detector is filtered, amplified, and converted to digital form that can be extracted and classified to determine the desired direction of motion. “This thought-controlled wheelchair is different from Stephen Hawkins’ chair because his chair can be controlled by blowing and facial expression, but our chair is controlled by brain signals. So it’s more advanced than Stephen Hawkins’ chair,” Noor Fakhr said.

2) In-Pipe Inspection Robot

Category: Environment

By: Dr Mamoun Abdul Hafez, Dr Shayok, Dr Mohammad Jaradat, Wassim Al Masri, and Daniel Walid from the American University of Sharjah

What it is: An autonomous robot that can navigate inside oil and pipelines to detect any leaks that need repair so they don’t damage their surrounding environment. The robot enables high-accurate localisation.

“In this prototype, we can get a 2cm to 3cm accuracy. For long pipelines, we are targeting hopefully less than a metre accuracy so therefore even if we go to 10m or very long distances, we can send service personnel to quickly locate the leak and fix it within a short span of time,” Dr Mamoun Abdul Hafez said.


Some highlights from the International category

1) Bionic hands

Category: Health

By: Open Bionics (UK-based)

What it is: Using 3D scanning and 3D printing, Open Bionics produces bionic hands for amputees that are super affordable and very stylish. The bionic hands enables amputees to use their two muscle points in their arm to move fingers of the bionic hands using sensors inside the socket of the bionic hands that can act as his or her hand. With it, they can move their fingers individually, can pick up an egg, a small screw, and other things.

“Our advantage is we’re making it affordable. At the moment, bionic hands cost up to $100,000 just for one hand. We’re making it for $5,000 with the same functionality. We’re also working with the Walt Disney company to make Iron Man hands for kids and Disney Frozen hands and Star Wars hands. So we’re looking bionic hands super cool,” Sammy Payne, COO of Open Bionics, said.

2) Unmanned Rover System (URS)

Category: Social services/relief

By: URS Laboratories Ltd

What it is: A rover system that delivers aid, food, and medical supplies to refugee camps that are hard to reach or may be unsafe for relief workers. The gasoline-powered rover can be manned or unmanned and can cover a distance of 400km at one go. It can operate for 24 hours straight when unmanned and has speeds of up to 180km/h. It also has a demining capability.

“We very much believe that the vision for this competition has always been how much good you can do, what’s the message of peace and what’s the mission of hope that the leadership has. For us in relief aid, we’ve looked at how you deliver food, water, and medical supplies in that last mile [that can’t be reached by aid vehicles]. This can work autonomously based on missions we’ve programmed for 24 hours non-stop,” Michael Cochran, CEO and cofounder of URS Laboratories Ltd, said.

3) Gait Exoskeleton

Category: Health

By: Marsi-Bionics (Spain)

What it is: Gait Exoskeletons are wearable devices that allow children who cannot walk because of neurological diseases to have a good quality of life. Around the world, around 60 million people have lost their ability to walk. Of them, 17 million are children affected by a number of neurological diseases. To help improve their quality of life, the exoskeleton gives them a chance to walk, sit, turn and do other functions.

“Children aged three to 14 can use this exoskeleton which is completely non-invasive. The corset will support the weight of the child and the child will just let the exoskeleton to move. Our final goal is to have one exoskeleton per child because this can improve their quality of life and life expectancy,” Elena Garcia, cofounder of Marci-Bionics, said.