Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Robocon 2012 Hong Kong

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) once again represented Malaysia in the prestigious ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest 2012 for the eighth times on 19th August 2012. This year’s ROBOCON theme was ‘Peng On Dai Gat, In Pursuit of Peace and Prosperity’. Students were required to construct one manual and two automatic robots to collect as many ‘buns’ as possible to score points.  This year contest’s difficulty lay in the close collaboration required between manual and automatic robots. A team would win a match immediately if they achieve ‘Peng On Dai Gat’ (PODG). During training, UTM managed to achieve PODG in 39 seconds, one of the fastest in the competition.

This year, 17 teams from 16 countries participated in this contest namely Japan, China, Russia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Mongolia, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Malaysia. As host country, Hong Kong was entitled to send two teams. Our UTM team, representing Malaysia, comprised 32 members who were mainly first and second year undergraduates from Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Computer Science & Information. The registered team members were Chik Sheng Fei, Tey Sheng Rou and Cheok Ming Jin (all in their first year studies of Bachelor of Engineering). The accompanying staffs were Dr Mohd Zarhamdy Bin Md Zain (Instructor) and Dr Yeong Che Fai.

All teams were divided into six groups (A – F), where the group winner would automatically qualify for quarter final. Additionally, two best teams besides the six group winners would be selected for the quarter final match. We were in Group B, the toughest group with China and India. All teams in Group B could perform PODG and the difference was only several seconds apart. China could achieve PODF in average 37 seconds, Malaysia 39 seconds and India 55 seconds. In an unexpected twist of events, each of the team in Group B won once with India defeating China, Malaysia defeating India and China defeating Malaysia. China top the group with fastest PODG timing thus qualified for the quarter final round automatically. Fortunately, both Malaysia and India were the other two best teams selected from all the remaining teams to advance to quarter final alongside the six group winners.

Malaysia’s journey was cut short in quarter final round, losing to Japan. During the match, Malaysia’s robots malfunctioned. High electrostatic discharge was detected then, something we have never encountered in previous years. A Japanese representative shared that they had similar problem before back in Japan and had redesigned their robot to prevent it during the international game. This was a great lesson learnt to prepare ourselves for the future competitions.

Although we did not make it to finals, we made an impression with our robot design as well as the young age of our team members, who were mostly first year undergraduates. Most countries were represented by final year students. Our robots were impressive enough for us to be awarded the ‘Best Design Award’ by the international panels. Parts of the results are as follow (http://aburobocon2012.hk/):


Grand Prix: China

1st Runner Up: Vietnam

2nd Runner Up: Japan & Thailand

ABU Robocon Award: Japan

Best Idea Award: Hong Kong

Best Design Award: Malaysia

Best Engineering Award: Thailand

After the competition, all participants shared their experience and knowledge. We took group photos, danced and even exchanged shirts and souvenirs. Most importantly, we exchanged contacts for future correspondence and knowledge sharing. UTM also arranged a visit to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HUKST). It was fortunate for us and an eye opener to visit this university which was ranked number 1 in QS Asian universities ranking 2011. We were greeted by Professor Kam-Tim Woo and his students. We visited their labs and had extensive discussions on how to improve both our teams in the future. We were amazed with HUKST on their performance in other international competitions including Entrepreneur Challenge, ROV and Smart Car competition. We were excited with the possibility to work together in the future.

The spirit of ROBOCON is still very much aflame in UTM team. We have already started to discuss on the game strategies and members’ recruitment for the upcoming ROBOCON which will be held in Vietnam in 2013. It will be another new long journey but it is definitely worth the toil, sweat and sleepless nights. This is a platform to gain invaluable experience, knowledge and friendships.


Contest venue: Group match between Malaysia and China is taking place.


UTM Robocon Team

Malaysia (UTM) won the ‘Best Design Award’.

Japan team (The University of Tokyo) sharing their design with UTM students.

Group photo: Malaysia with Vietnam

Group photo: Malaysia with Hong Kong

Group photo: Malaysia with Japan

Group photo between UTM and HKUST at the front of the university.

Professor Kam-Tim Woo (HKUST) gave an opening speech.

Knowledge sharing by HKUST representatives on their robots.

Knowledge sharing by HKUST representatives on their robots.