MTC apprentices reach finals of 'RoboCup Rescue' competition

MTC apprentices reach finals of 'RoboCup Rescue' competition

Date: Thursday 21 April 2016

News MTC apprentices reach finals of 'RoboCup Rescue' competition

Twelve apprentice engineers pit themselves against the rest of the world in the development of search and rescue robots

A team of third and fourth year apprentices from the Manufacturing Technology Centre have become the only team from the UK to make it through to the finals of the RoboCup Rescue League, which will take place in Leipzig, Germany from 30 June to 4 July 2016.

The annual RoboCup Rescue League focuses on developing robots capable of operating in disaster zones, such as in the aftermath of an earthquake or tsunami, to search for survivors where it would be too dangerous for humans.

Pitting themselves against universities and engineers from across the world, the 12-strong MTC team is the only team in the competition made up entirely of apprentices, who are looking forward to the challenge.

"This is the first year the MTC has entered the RoboCup League and as the only apprentice team in the competition this is a great chance for us to showcase, and put into practice, the wide range of engineering skills we’ve learnt during our apprenticeship," said James Cox, fourth year apprentice and leader of the MTC’s RoboCup team.

At the finals in June, competing robots will have to demonstrate their strength in a range of capabilities, such as mobility, sensory perception, mapping, and operator interfaces, in order to successfully navigate through a number of challenging disaster zone simulation courses. 

The team’s design must take into careful consideration the challenging environments search and rescue teams operate in, such as earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, and tsunamis. 

The MTC robot will use cameras and sensors to safely move around the course and to detect crucial signs of life, such as heat, CO2 and movement. The courses will also feature obstacles, rubble and debris, which robots must be able to negotiate.

In addition to these requirements, the MTC team are focussing on developing a robot that is lightweight to give it speed and mobility - reflecting the fact that in such situations time is crucial when searching for survivors. To achieve this, many of the components have been 3D printed, and lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium have been used as much as possible. The MTC team have set their sights on winning ‘Best in Class’ for mobility.

MTC chief executive Dr Clive Hickman said the trainees had a big challenge in front of them but were capable of rising to it.

"Our apprentices at the MTC have the opportunity to work in a unique research and development environment, where each day is different and there are real opportunities to work on exciting projects - this competition is a real example of that. They’ve shown great initiative as the first team from the MTC to enter the competition, and have done really well to get through to the finals," he said.

The MTC has already won national recognition for its success in developing the engineers of the future and for displaying the highest standards of excellence in employing apprentices, winning praise for its success in tackling the current skills shortage and developing a new generation of engineers with its flagship apprentice programme. 

The MTC’s Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre (AMTC) has been specially built to provide training for the next generation of engineers and technicians in the advanced processes needed to enable UK manufacturing to compete internationally. 

The AMTC is currently recruiting for 40 new apprentices who will follow those already taking part in the centre’s advanced engineering training programme. 

Anyone interested in joining the 2016 apprentice intake should visit and complete the application form. 

Pictured:  The MTC’s RoboCup Rescue League team

We are working at the forefront of applied technology. The job is exciting and varied and every day brings a new challenge.
Dr Katy Milne
Technology Manager, Metrology and NDT