Including a range of plastics, ceramics and metals like titanium with varying results
BBC News reported the winning entry to be Cartman “a budget-priced robot from Australia”.
The robot was designed by a team calling itself the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (ACRV), which featured engineers from the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. Their cash prize was US$80,000 (£60,980).
The bot was designed from scratch for the challenge and, unlike past winners that used a robotic arm, used a sliding mechanism to pick up products.
The robot uses a frame to move in straight lines across three axes at right-angles to one another. It supports a rotating gripper fitted with suction cups and a two-fingered claw to hold and manipulate the items.
The parts used to make it were cheap by the standards of typical industrial robots, according to professor Jonathan Roberts, robotics lab leader at Queensland University of Technology.
“It could be built for under A$30,000 (£18,245),” he told the BBC. However, he noted the “many thousands of hours of team effort that went into the design, testing and programming.”
The online retailer sponsors the event “to strengthen ties between the industrial and academic robotics communities and to promote shared and open solutions” to the practical hurdles of running a global supplier.
The competition’s tasks tested the robots’ ability to identify products, pick them up from a mixed batch of goods of differing shapes, sizes and weights, and place them in appropriate boxes for shipping to a customer.
Amazon is one of the biggest public companies in the world. Its logistics and warehousing operations serve a business with a global reach, so in a search for technical solutions to automated product picking it set up competitions to encourage the design of warehouse robots in 2015 and 2016.
This year it combined those competitions into the Amazon Robotics Challenge. This was a seven-day event held at Nagoya, Japan in July. Sixteen teams from universities and research institutes around the world brought robots they had designed, and assembled them to attempt a series of tasks to identify the winners.
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