Blind men’s Robot steal the show at First Tech Challenge

Share this News:

Pune, February 1, 2020: It was the blind men’s team which could steal the show on the inaugural day of the First Tech Challenge (FTC) organized by InfinityX Tech Systems at Shree Shiv Chhtrapati Sports Complex, Mhalune – Balewadi.

Over 47 teams of various schools from across the country are participating in FTC 2019 – 20 India Championship. Here, teenagers in the age group of 12-18 years have assembled a Robot which will compete on the theme of ‘Skystone’, based on Star Wars movie theme of building a city in space. The objective of FTC is to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education among students.

Dr. Swati Mujumdar, Pro Chancellor, Symbiosis Skills University was the Chief Guest for the inauguration function. Ashwin Savant, Founder InfinityX, Yuvraj Lahoti from VIT, Rakesh Baweja from FIAT, Dr A. D. Shaligram HoD Electronic Science of SPPU, Jaiprakash Dubale, Joint Director Sports and Youth Services Government of Maharashtra were also present on the occasion along with Caroline Allard, an environmentalist from Canada.

Ashvin Savant, Founder of InfinityX said, “This edition of FTC is historic in the sense that for the first time any team of blinds is competing with teenagers of normal eyesight. This team of Niwant, an NGO which works for skills and career development of visually impaired has been mentored by the Sumesh Jaiswal and Arun Garg, both are mechanical engineers and are the alumni of IIT Kanpur. Both are currently working in leading IT Companies.”s

“Bishops School Robotic Club (BSRC) extend required help to Niwant Team for making them eligible for participating in FTC. Boys at Niwant were also the part of fund-raising drive of Bishops School Children and thus managed to raise funds for procuring their robotic kit worth Rs.1.5 Lac”, he added.

Arun Garg, who was instrumental in mentoring these children along with Sumesh Jaiswal said, “As a part of FTC outreach program when BSRC took their previous edition’s Robot to Niwant. After experiencing the concept, youngsters at Niwant decided to take up the challenge and assemble a Robot and practice enough to participate in this theme based competition.”

“It was a relentless effort of last 2 months where these teenagers from Niwant took extraordinary effort to assemble their Robot. At times, they have worked as late as 2:00am. From this 9-member team of Niwant almost 50% are fully blind and remaining ones have partial vision”, he added.

“Training them with touch and feel was a time-consuming process which required a lot of patience. Use of nut bolts while assembling the Robot was a major challenge. Here, students of BSRC jumped in for the help and created some special tools with which Team Niwant could do the nut tightening jobs easily. For programming or coding, text to speech technology was used by them for Java programming”, informed Garg.

Sabir Shaikh from Team Niwant said, “We had major challenges in identifying the spare parts and colour coding. Similarly nuts and wheels fixing was equally difficult for us. So, we have spent more time at Bishops. The school was kind enough to provide their bus service for dropping us back when it used to be late night for finishing the work.”

Gaurav Ahir said that screen reader software helped them for coding. According to Tejas Mete they will continue this learning and will explore it for multiple assistive technology development.

Two winning teams from India Championship will represent India at global championship to be held at Detroit, USA in April this year.

FTC is supported by Qualcomm as Presenting Partner and Vishwakarma University as Program Partner. It has been also supported by NRB Bearings Ltd., PTC, BVG India, Travwold, Patanjali Divya Jal, FIAT India, Mercedes Benz, Capegemini, Persistent, NVIDIA, Symbiosis Skill Open University, Hallmark Outdoor and other corporates joining the event. FTC has been endorsed by ARAI, STPI, SEAP, SAE India and Savitribai Phule Pune University.

First Tech Challenge robotics competition is presented by FIRST, USA (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) which was founded by Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. It is a not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), while building self-confidence, knowledge. Its philosophy is expressed by the organisation as coopertition (co-operation and competition) and gracious professionalism (that encourages teamwork with high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community).

FTC competition was introduced by PTC in India 2009-10 in collaboration with NRB Bearings Ltd and since 2011-12, FTC is being organized every year for students in grades 7–12 (age group of 12 to 18 years). Teams, with the guidance of coaches, mentors and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on innovative, sound engineering principles.
Attachments area