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UC students to learn more about robotics in Japan

UC postgraduate students to learn more about robotics in Japan

March 6, 2014

Three University of Canterbury’s postgraduate students are bound for Japan to learn more about the robotic industry in a bid to save lives in New Zealand.

UC’s mechanical engineering PhD student Chris Meaclem, Bart Milne and masters student Alex Lippitt head to Japan next week, at the invitation of the Japanese Government, for short-term visiting fellowships to learn more about robots in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and manufacturing.

They will visit Japanese companies, the Tokyo Rinkai disaster prevention park, Mitsubishi Motors, Kagawa National College of Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology and develop robotic networks.

Meaclem is researching sensor guided semi-autonomous tree to tree felling machinery for steep terrain harvesting in New Zealand to help address the high rate of deaths and injuries around felling trees.

UC’s mechanical engineering professor XiaoQi Chen says the study trip will expose the postgraduates to the cutting-edge technologies in robotics and automation developed in Japan.

``This trip can potentially lead to further academic exchanges and research collaborations between UC researchers and partners in Japan. It helps us stay in touch with the forefront of robotics technology and develop innovative automation solutions that suit New Zealand’s environment,’’ Professor XaioQi says.

Milne is also looking into reducing accidents in remote controlled steep slope forestry harvesting. New Zealand has large amounts of steep land in use for forestry. Much of this forestry is reaching a harvestable age and there is a need for safe and economic extraction of the trees.

``My research is looking at aids such as machine vision and system modelling to enhance the precision and productivity of a forestry harvest worker.

``Japan has a highly developed robotics industry and faces similar challenges with terrain harvesting. It will be very interesting to see what insights can be gained into how Japanese industry is dealing with these challenges.’’

Milne and Meaclem are part of the UC team working on the national primary growth programme Forest Harvest Solution in collaboration with SCION and the forestry industry, specifically focusing on robotisation of steep country forest harvest.

Lippitt is seeking to improve patient rehabilitation with stroke victims that have lost swallowing function. His work involves building on an existing system that uses electrical support impedance of the throat to provide feedback to the patient.


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