Team Re-Act Robot showcases a robotic system for physiotherapy of the upper limb (arm) at the UAE AI and Robotics For Good Award at Dubai Internet City on Friday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Twenty national and international teams competed in the semi-finals of the first UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good at the Dubai Internet City, demonstrating how their inventions can be used to serve humanity.

As a panel of high-profile judges evaluated the 10-minute long demonstration of each team, crowds cheered the contestants on the sidelines.

The UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good, launched by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, is taking place along with the second edition of the UAE Drones for Good Award, launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Both awards are the biggest of their kind, offering a total prize money of Dh4.67 million ($ 1 million for the international competition winner, and Dh1 million for the national competition winner). The award saw 654 submissions from 121 countries, according to organisers.

National and international participants spoke about their projects.

The B Motion team from the UAE displayed their Brain Controlled Electric Wheelchair that employs non-invasive, brain-computer interface based on electroencephalography (EEG) to detect user’s thoughts, feelings and expressions and accordingly issue appropriate commands to the electric wheelchair motor controller.

Mohammad Noorallah and his four-member team, all graduates from Ajman University, said they began working on the project after a visit to a handicapped centre.

“The centre donated a wheelchair to us so we could work on our project, which took around 6-9 months. With the growing numbers of quadriplegic patients around the world, we thought this invention could help them in many ways.”

They were happy with the response and would like to develop it as a product for patients worldwide.

The Mozo team from the UAE displayed a one-metre tall teddy bear-shaped robot for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social Deficits and Communication Difficulties symptoms that motivates them to develop social skills.

Reem Al Marzooqi, architectural engineer, said it took six months to develop Mozo after a meeting with an autistic child. “I wanted to make something that would help [autistic children] build their confidence in a faster way.”

The robot is controlled using a mobile app and can help the patient talk, sing the national anthem, learn how to say the directions and even name colours. “Mozo has been applied and has shown a positive impact on 17 children already. It can have more features in the future.”

Another UAE team of three Emirati girls showcased a borewell system called WaterLoop, that monitors the quality and level of water and gathers real-time information for both water planning and direct water consumption.

“It took us four to five months to develop this robot,” said Reem Al Junaibi, 27. “2.8 billion people worldwide drink water from wells and more than half of them drink contaminated water. This device informs people about contaminated water and helps them lead a healthier life.”

Makeroni Labs team from Spain displayed their Eye of Horus project which offers support for physically handicapped people with their tasks. The system combines eye-tracking with a frontal camera to know where its users are looking. The target devices are identified using light beacons, similar to LiFi technology, and controlled by wireless protocols.

Speaking to Gulf News, Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation and Coordinator General of the UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good, said that they received a large number of submissions for the award. “We launched the award because we felt UAE has that appeal for international community focusing on these emerging technologies. We are seeing a wide spectrum of applications of robotics, some as small as a nano robot that can enter the body and some as large as a human body. We have crowdsourced the best ideas for robotics and AI here today.”

Dr Eisa M. Bastaki, President of University of Dubai and Chairman of the panel of judges said, “I was impressed with the volume of participation. Robotics have been around for long, unlike drones, so they are advanced. The projects are well-designed and their application serves humanity.”

12 finalists in race for award

Three finalists each from the National and International competitions joined six others selected on Thursday to compete for the Dh9.3 million prize money in the final of both the UAE Drones for Good Award and the UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good today.

National Competition

Smart Guidance System for the Blind.

Team B-Motion for its Mind-Controlled Electric Wheelchair.

RE-ACT ROBOT team with its haptic robotic system.

International Competition

MIT Biomimetics Robotics Lab team for Hermes robots (US)

SuitX and UC Berkeley team for Affordable Exoskeletons for Children with Neurological Disorders (US),

Andros Robotics team for Robotic Leg Advancement Device (US).