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Winners Announced In International Robotics Challenge

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17 November, 2010
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After 461 days of preparation and five days of demonstrations displaying ground-breaking robotics technologies, three teams from America have topped the inaugural Multi Autonomous Ground-robotics International Challenge (MAGIC 2010).

Winning Team Michigan's Edwin Olsen explains the concept of his robot design to Chief Defence Scientist Prof Robert Clark and Deputy Chief Defence Scientist Dr Warren Harch.
Winning Team Michigan's Edwin Olsen explains the concept of his robot design to Chief Defence Scientist Prof Robert Clark and Deputy Chief Defence Scientist Dr Warren Harch.

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, announced the results of the competition and named Team Michigan as the overall winner (view the winners photo gallery).

The team, from the University of Michigan, received a $US750,000 grant during an awards function at the Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane today.

“I congratulate the prize-winning teams and all the other competitors who have contributed their technology and ideas by participating in this event. This is a trail-blazing moment for our military in terms of how we conduct future combat missions,” Mr Snowdon said.

Team U-Penn, from the University of Pennsylvania, placed second, earning a $US250,000 grant while the US team RASR or Reconnaissance & Autonomy for Small Robots, placed third and received a $US100,000 grant.

MAGIC 2010 is a joint initiative of Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the U.S. Army. The competition aims to accelerate the development of next generation autonomous vehicle systems or robots that can operate effectively on the future battlefield in dangerous situations, keeping soldiers out of harm’s way.

The Challenge attracted 23 international entries, and five finalists were chosen to undertake a complex and increasingly difficult series of ‘missions’ over a 500-metre by 500-metre course at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds last week. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, attended the final demonstration last week.

“It was exciting to witness the robots in action, and I’m sure the challenge will generate many useful innovations that will see new advances in robotics technology and help to improve force protection.”

Chief Judge for MAGIC and former Director of the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Dr Tony Tether said, “The MAGIC Challenge was a lot like Kittyhawk except that instead of fighting we are witnessing the start of the future of autonomous robotic systems.”

The Director of US Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, Dr Grace Bochenek said the inaugural MAGIC 2010 competition brought together top researchers from around the world.

“MAGIC pushes the boundaries of ground robotics and the work accomplished with a team of robots working together will directly benefit our soldiers now and in the future.”

“This competition will continue to enthuse University teams around the world that will be working toward the next generation of collaborative, multi-tasking robots,” Mr Snowdon said.

“This partnership between Australia and the US will advance technology for both countries.”

Editors Note: Video can be downloaded from Images from

Media contacts:

Alice Plate (Minister Snowdon)             0400 045 999

Adam Carr (Senator Feeney)               (02) 6277 3415

Steve Butler (DSTO)                           0418 800 323

Media Liaison                                      02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is part of Australia's Department of Defence. DSTO's role is to ensure the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defence of Australia and its national interests.

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