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Texas university wins Sick robotics challenge

A team from Texas A&M University has won this year’s robotics challenge organized by Sick.

For the 2018-2019 school year, Sick invited students from universities around the country to participate in the first ever TiM$10K Challenge, created to support innovation and student achievement in automation and technology.

Teams were supplied with a 270° Sick LiDAR sensor (TiM) and accessories and challenged to solve a problem, create a solution, or bring a new application to any industry that utilizes the Sick LiDAR.

The winners of the TiM$10K Challenge are:

1st Place: Texas A&M University Team 2 – Foreign object detection on airport tarmacs

2nd Place: Texas A&M University Team 1 – Visual impairment walking aid

3rd Place: Purdue University – Low-friction test bed for CubeSats (micro satellites)

Project summaries

Texas A&M University Team 2 used the SICK LiDAR sensor to detect foreign object debris (FOD) on airport tarmacs, like screws or metal strips from planes.

Each year, FOD costs the aviation industry billions of dollars in airplane repairs. FOD also has potential deadly consequences if not maintained properly.

The system built by this team is an AGV that drives around the tarmac and detects any FOD with the LiDAR sensor.

The second place team, Texas A&M University Team 1, developed a walking aid for the visually impaired using the SICK LiDAR sensor.

Instead of implementing the device in a cane or other walking aid, the team created a wearable device that provides a person an audio warning in advance of an obstacle.

The LiDAR sensor is used to detect the upcoming obstacles. This walking aid is intended to be used as a complement to the white cane.

Finally, the team from Purdue University created a low-friction test bed to test CubeSats, which are micro satellites.

These are commonly used in experiments to demonstrate new technology in Low Earth Orbit. One major application of these micro satellites are rendezvous proximity operations, where a LiDAR sensor is used to accurately track its position to another object.

The team developed a low-friction test bed and a micro satellite, TracSat.

Contest background

Each team was asked to submit a video and paper for judging upon completion of the project.

A panel of judges decided the winning submissions based on creativity and innovation, ability to solve a customer problem, commercial potential to productize and market the application, entrepreneurship of the team, and reporting.

The three winning teams win a cash award of $10K for first place, $5K for second place, and $3K for third place.

In addition to bragging rights and the cash prize, the first place team, along with the advising professor, will go on an all-expense paid trip to Germany to visit the Sick headquarters and manufacturing facility in summer 2019.

This contest was supported by PMMI Foundation’s U Skills Fund. PMMI Foundation works to grow awareness of careers in packaging and processing, providing assistance to schools and programs that develop students to excel in the industry.

LiDAR sensor technology

The LiDAR sensor (TiM) provided to teams utilizes a rotating pulsed laser to calculate distances to its surroundings based on the time-of-flight principle.

The rotating laser effectively forms a circle around the TiM, inside which users can create individual fields to monitor for the presence or absence of an object.

The reliability of the sensor is improved by Sick’s patented High-Definition Distance Measurement (HDDM) technology, which samples each measurement several times and averages the results.

As the TiM$10K teams ably proved, monitoring the individual fields for objects can be a great way to solve applications that other sensing technologies cannot.

This makes the TiM invaluable in a variety of industrial applications, as well as building automation, stationary, and mobile applications.

In addition, the integrated Ethernet interface allows for remote monitoring, measurement, and navigation which presented a ton of creative possibilities for the TiM$10K teams.

Registration for the 2019-2020 TiM$10K Challenge

Sick is now accepting entries for the TiM$10K Challenge for the 2019-2020 school year. Student teams can register online by September 2, 2019.

Student teams are encouraged to use their creativity and technical knowledge to incorporate the Sick LiDAR for any industry in any application.

Advisors and professors are allowed to guide the student teams as required.

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