Following the success of last year's Thailand Intelligent Vehicle Challenge, in which university students competed in constructing and racing unmanned four-wheeled vehicles, this year Seagate Technology (Thailand) Ltd (Seagate), in collaboration with the Thai Robotics Society (TRS) and the Department of Mechatronics, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), is inviting students to compete in the inaugural BicyRobo Thailand Championship 2010 (BTC).
Each competitor in the BTC has to design and race an unmanned bicycle against the other entrants' creations. The vehicle needs to be able to balance and navigate itself through a predefined path at not more than 45km per hour.
Under the rules, three students studying for a vocational certificate or a bachelor's degree, or higher, at an education institution in Thailand form a team, with a teacher as adviser. Applications are open from now until March 19.
"In a competition, balancing and steering a two-wheeled, unmanned, intelligent vehicle is much more challenging than navigating a four-wheeled, unmanned, intelligent car," said Assoc Prof Manukid Parnichkun, PhD, a professor of mechatronics at AIT and chairperson of the BTC organising committee.
The professor added that competitors have to combine their knowledge of four subjects: science, electrical engineering, computer science and control engineering.
According to Asst Prof Jackrit Suthakorn, PhD, president of the TRS, the BTC is the world premiere of unmanned intelligent bicycle racing.
"This competition sets a new stage for Thai youngsters. We want to encourage Thai students to engage in extra-curricular activities in which they put their lessons into action, as these pastimes enable students to fulfil their learning process," said the president, who is anticipating that the competition will enhance and accelerate the robotics science and industry in Thailand and develop a cadre of critical thinkers.
Contestants can either modify an existing bicycle, or design and construct their own vehicle, which must be suitable for real-life use.
The energy used to power the vehicle must be clean energy, such as solar energy, wind energy or hydro power. Energy that requires combustion, such as gasoline, is prohibited.
Competitors are free to design their own techniques for balancing and navigating their respective vehicles. According to Prof Manukid, the current technologies that are used for balancing this type of craft include mass balancing, gyroscopic balancing and centrifugal force balancing.
The 16 teams whose vehicles can travel the farthest within 10 minutes in the preliminary round will be shortlisted to enter the final round.
In the final round, two teams are paired up to compete against each other in each stage. One vehicle from each of the teams will be placed at its own starting point.
The team whose bicycle is more than 50 metres farther away from the opponent's vehicle will win the race; otherwise, the vehicle that covered a longer distance will be the winner.
Each of the selected 16 teams will be given 20,000 baht to develop its vehicle. The winning team will be awarded a cash prize of 150,000 baht, while 100,000 baht goes to the first runner-up. The team with the best technique and the most-creative team win 50,000 baht in cash each.
"This contest allows us to help develop the creative skills of future leaders of Thailand in terms of solving both practical and theoretical engineering problems. The BTC is difficult from an engineering perspective, and it requires students to apply creative solutions, which is an important skill that future leaders need to deal with problems [effectively]," said Jeffrey D. Nygaard, Seagate's vice-president.
Mr Nygaard also commented that the BTC, through its emphasis on inventing clean-energy-powered vehicles, dovetails into the company's goal of creating a safe and sustainable environment.
For registration and detailed information on the BTC's rules and regulations, visit http://bicyrobo.ait.ac.th before March 19.