Robotics students look to Xbox Kinect

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Engineering students at the University of Warwick are building an innovative rescue robot using the Xbox Kinect to help navigate the machine. The robot is being developed in a bid to retain the European RoboCup Rescue Championship title, which was won by a team of Warwick students last year.

The students are currently trialling the XBox Kinect to see if they can use it to provide a method of real-time visual communication and 3D mapping, which will ultimately aid in the navigation of the autonomous robot to give the team an edge over the competition.

If this is successful the team could save thousands of pounds but using the technology instead of buying existing sensors.

Last year's team developed a robot to crawl over difficult terrain such as destroyed buildings in search of trapped survivors. This robot won first place overall and best in class for mobility at the European championship in Germany.

This year the current Warwick Mobile Robotics team of seven students want to go one better by using the popular games console and win at the Robocup Rescue World Championships, which is being held in Istanbul, Turkey.

The first challenge the team face is to raise enough sponsorship money to enable them to compete in both competitions in Germany and Turkey.  They need about £20,000 to pay for new robot components plus travel costs for both championships.

Plans are already afoot to enhance last year's impressive robot by improving the human-machine interface, increase manoeuvrability and design an arm with added manipulator to carry supplies to trapped survivors.

The team is being backed by WMG academic, Dr Emma Rushforth, who believes the project will give the students an excellent opportunity showcase their skills.

She said: 'As well as giving each team member experience in solving  real engineering problems, the project offers them the chance to acquire unparalleled expertise in mobile robot design which, in future, companies will need to have.'

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