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Massey Joins Forces To Research Robots

Massey Joins Forces With Singapore To Research Robots

Imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when, as you sit down to breakfast, your car books itself in for a service, the coffee machine brews a cup to your specific taste, and the toaster pops up a fresh piece of toast. The stuff of science fiction? Not according to Massey University scientists undertaking an Asia 2000-funded project to develop micro-robots for home, business and industry.

Over the next two years students and staff from Massey and Singapore Polytechnic will research the internationally competitive field of “intelligent systems”. Their joint research is expected to develop a new generation of micro-robots. Asia 2000 is contributing to the project under its Higher Education Exchange Programme that encourages New Zealand tertiary institutions to form relationships with Asian counterparts.

Led by Dr Chris Messom and Professor Serge Demidenko of the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences in Auckland, the project aims to heighten existing co-operation between the two institutions.

"Co-operation and collaboration between Singapore Polytechnic and Massey University will give both institutions the opportunity to step ahead of the competition in the field of intelligent devices,” says Dr Messom. “Singapore's years of investment in high technology and New Zealand's creativity and inventiveness provide a potent mix that will be exploited over the next two years of working together. The expected outcome at the end of the two years is that the project will have reached a level of industrial prototype development."

The development of mobile intelligent robots means a host of futuristic gadgets for the household -- from robot vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers to mobile home security systems -- and more intelligent devices in the workplace to increase office and factory automation.

"Highly reliable mobile mechatronic systems, such as micro-robots, is an area of intense international competition," said Dr Messom. "The trend in continuing research into these intelligent devices is to wirelessly network them, based on communication platforms such as your mobile telephone.

"Future development lies in networking small intelligent devices so that the combined system is more useful and valuable than the individual parts. One intelligent device networked is not much use. However, once everything is networked including your car, coffee machine and toaster, life will be a lot different," he said.

Singapore Polytechnic is that country's oldest and biggest technical educational institute and specialises in micro-electronics, telecommunications, computer engineering, digital signal processing, mechatronics, robotics and control. “Expanded links with that centre will give our staff and students access to its first-class research facilities and equipment," Dr Messom said.

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