Robo-sport, raw materials and rail screening

News editor

The hiatus between the London 2012 Olympics and the start of the Paralympics has left some wondering where the next sporting thrills will come from.

Let’s quickly bypass the start of the football season and head straight to Bristol which this weeks hosts the FIRA RoboWorld Cup.

Taking place in a venue called At-Bristol, 27 international teams and a total of 202 participants will see their robots take part in a range of competitive sports made possible through skilfull manipulation of mechanical, electronic and advanced artificial intelligence technology.

Humanoid robots will compete in the HuroCup with events including football, basketball, wall climbing, weightlifting and marathon running, while wheeled robots will take part in MiroSot, a five or 11-a-side football game.

The UK is represented by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and Plymouth University, and The Engineer’s Stephen Harris will be in attendance on Wednesday to report on proceedings.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend FIRA RoboWorld Cup and, for the first time, members of the public are being asked to help select four robots for induction into the Robot Hall of Fame.

The new robots, chosen from a dozen nominees, will be inducted in a ceremony October 23, when they will take their place alongside such NASA’s Mars Sojourner and Honda’s ASIMO.

The Robot Hall of Fame, created in 2003 by Carnegie Mellon University, recognises excellence in robotics technology by honouring fictional robots that inspire innovation and the real robots that embody it.

Word now from the Home Office Centre for Applied Science & Technology (CAST), which is investigating the feasibility of high-throughput screening of passengers using London Underground and National Rail (LUNR) stations.

They say traditional checkpoint screening is problematic, given the high volumes of passengers on LUNR; identifying ‘semi-controlled’ ticket barriers, queues, escalators, or platforms as areas where screening could be implemented.

As such, DfT and CAST would like to understand what options exist for utilising these crowd flow mechanisms and current or emerging technologies to provide screening capability for high volumes of people.

They say screening methods must not delay passengers any more than they are currently as they pass through a station, and that screening options will investigate what throughput can be achieved when checking 25 per cent of passengers.

Items to be screened include passengers and their bags, wheelchairs, bikes and prosthetics. Screening technologies themselves will be on the look out for explosives, weapons (including firearms and knives) and CBRN materials.

The closing date for proposal submissions is 31st August, 2012. Click here for more information.

Design of a different kind now and word that the deadline is approaching for the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation 2012.

Automotive innovators have a fortnight to finalise submissions that will compete for the award that recognises ingenuity within UK automotive manufacturing, design and engineering.

Jaguar Land Rover won last year’s award for its Range_e, a premium SUV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that was recognised for delivering notable fuel economy and reductions in tailpipe emissions.

SMMT’s Award for Automotive Innovation 2012 is free to enter. Click here for more information.

Finally, government is under pressure from the Material Security Working Group to strengthen its Resource Security Action Plan, which was published in March in response to private sector concerns about the availability certain raw materials.

The group, which includes EEF and Friends of the Earth, claims ‘increasing global demand coupled with rapidly degrading ecosystems is already putting pressure on supplies of some raw materials.’

Recommended measures include the establishment of a task force to review existing targets and recommend policy changes to improve recycling; and a ban preventing recyclable materials being sent to “energy from waste” plants and landfills unless there is an environmental and economic justification for doing so.