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SAYS LEAD DEVELOPER AFP to give P1.7M to develop RP robot

Posted on: February 25, 2009

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/infotech/view/20081103-170022/AFP-to-give-P17M-to-develop-RP-robot
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:51:00 11/03/2008

Filed Under: Technology (general), Robotics

MAKATI, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is interested to fund further development of a locally made mechanical anti-terrorist concept or “MAC” robot that was initially funded by the Philippine National Police, a lead developer told INQUIRER.net.

MAC lead developer John Judilla of the Mapua Institute of Technology said the AFP will provide funding of about P1.7 million to improve the MAC.

Currently, the MAC team is working to produce a cheaper version of the anti-terrorist robot with a slew of enhancements, he added.

Judilla said the new MAC will use lighter Lithium polymer batteries and fiber glass for body frame to make it lighter.

The prototype uses lead-acid batteries and has a metal body frame. The tilt of the video camera on the gripper was also adjusted to allow the operator better control of the MAC.

Judilla said they will also make the new version capable of operating underwater and be able to go up and down staircases. Like the prototype, the new version will operate using 12 volts input/output of power.

At present, the team is looking up for a manufacturer willing to mass produce the enhanced MAC.

“If we are able to mass produce the MAC, we plan to sell each unit at P100,000,” said Judilla.

Mining countries Cambodia and Laos can benefit from low-cost alternative technologies like this, he said.

“Right now, the trend is affordable, advanced technology. So instead of focusing on the materials to use, we have shown that through the MAC you can invent a smart technology from cheaper materials via engineering process innovation,” said Judilla.

“Key to this process innovation is a good foundation in basic science and engineering,” said Judilla.

He cited as example of this process innovation a design modification they implemented on the prototype MAC so they can work within the P300,000 development budget from the Philippine National Police.

During the prototype’s development, the team considered buying more powerful torque motors than the one they bought so the robot will lift objects.

Focusing on low-cost development, the team instead used a simple compound pulley system to increase the torque effectively so the arm can lift 5kg-objects even with the use of a medium-sized high torque motor, said Judilla.

Last month, the prototype MAC robot won first place at the First World Cup on Computer Implemented Inventions in China, competing against 18 countries and over 40 inventions.

After the competition, the team has received interest for intensive collaboration with a foreign university, said Judilla.

A publisher of elementary and science high school science books also requested for the MAC to be featured in its future paperback edition.

During his presentation at the international competition, Judilla told judges that the MAC is a symbol of national pride, self reliance and technology capability.

With the MAC, they hope to reinvent robots in the Philippines, particularly those used in bomb disposal.

“We envision that U.S. and European institutions will eye MAC as an alternative robotics technology in terms of competitive pricing,” said Judilla.

The MAC team has started showcasing the robot in different locations.

Last week, it joined other school inventions at the Intellectual Property Office-Department of Trade and Industry in Makati. Starting November 4, it will be displayed at the SMX Mall of Asia in Pasig.

Meanwhile, the MAC developer team has filed for a utility model upgrade to invention patent at the Intellectual Property Office for the technology.

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