Mechatronics - University of Canterbury - New Zealand



UC Robot challenges former All Black

 Auckland was the ultimate rugby venue for a drop-goal kicking challenge yesterday, albeit a robotic one.

A kicking robot, designed and built by the University of Canterbury’s BotSoc (robotics society), tested its mettle against rival robots from Massey University’s Albany and Palmerston North campuses in a man versus robot challenge with former All Black and NZ2011 Ambassador Andrew Mehrtens at Victoria Park, Auckland.

BotSoc, with support from SMC Pneumatics and NZICT, was invited to design and build a competitive drop-goal kicking machine capable of competing against Mehrtens who, until recently, held the title of all-time leading point scorer for the All Blacks.

Students George Buchanan and Cameron Gunn, and UC alumnus and CEO of InvertRobotics James Robertson were involved in designing the robot.

UC engineering students and academics achieve national recognition

(From left) Dr Geoff Shaw, Senior ICU Consultant at the Christchurch ICU, Professor Jan Evans-Freeman, Alicia Evans, Professor Geoff Chase, James Steel, Logan Ward and Dr Aaron LeCompte

Four University of Canterbury engineering students have won the prestigious Ray Meyer Medal award from IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers).

It is the fifth year in a row that UC students have won the final year projects award, the fourth under the title of the Ray Meyer Medal.

The team of four final-year University of Canterbury engineering students - Alicia Evans (Mechatronics Engineering), James Steel (Mechatronics Engineering), Chia Siong Tan (Mechanical Engineering) and Logan Ward (Mechanical Engineering) - were presented with the 2011 Ray Mayer Award for Excellence in Student Design for their final year project Active Insulin Control, STAR: Stochastic Targeted Glycaemic Control.

The project was supervised by Professor Geoff Chase (Mechanical Engineering) and Dr Aaron LeCompte (Mechanical Engineering) as part of a final year project course.

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Engineer builds flea-like robot

A prototype robot that mimics the jumping actions of a flea has been developed by a University of Canterbury engineering student.

Alex Mead was awarded a $5000 University of Canterbury Summer Scholarship which allowed him to undertake the supervised research project during the summer recess. The result is a 10cm-high aluminium robot which has recorded jumps as high as two metres.

Alex’s research was supervised by Dr Wenhui Wang (Mechanical Engineering) and built on research conducted the previous summer by student Rashed Buksh.

Dr Wang said the flea was an amazing creature, capable of jumping up to 200 times its own body length, making its “a champion in the animal world when it comes to jumping”.

He said the aim of the project was to see if engineering could mimic nature. “We are trying to combine nature’s capabilities with breakthroughs in engineering.”

Prestigious honour for UC engineer

Professor Geoff Chase (Mechanical Engineering) has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a relatively rare honour for an engineer.

Professor Chase was one of 12 top New Zealand pure and applied science and humanities researchers who were announced as new fellows at the Society’s annual general meeting on 6 October.

Professor Chase was nominated for his innovative research that focuses on model-based therapeutics, combining innovative engineering models and methods with physiology and clinical medicine to produce novel results for the health sector.

UC robotics research set to transform NZ horticulture industry

A vine-pruning robot that could save New Zealand’s horticulture industry $27.5 million a year is being developed by a University of Canterbury-led research team.

The team has received almost $3 million in funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology for their programme to develop an intelligent vision-based pruning system.

The world leading research team includes UC’s Professor XiaoQi Chen (Mechatronics Director, Mechanical Engineering). The team plan to spend the next four years in the research and development of advanced vision-based real time 3D modelling, interfaced to multiple high performance robotic arms with cutters to accomplish economically automated pruning.

The robotic system, which will be manufactured in New Zealand, is forecast to earn New Zealand exporters over $200 million within 10 years of market entry. It is also estimated to provide savings of $27.5 million per annum to the New Zealand wine industry through increased productivity and reduced yield losses.

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Engineers seize opportunity to commercialise new technology

Turning bright ideas into marketable propositions can be hard work as students at UC have discovered for themselves.

Four student teams took part in the entré Bright Ideas Workshop, each challenged with finding business opportunities for intellectual property conceived at the University of Canterbury. The workshop was run in conjunction with PowerHouse, the company that works with UC academics to identify possible commercialisation opportunities.

The winning team – Corey Weir, Tim Phillips and Jamie Robertson – looked at the commercial applications of the suction cup technology developed in the form of a wall-climbing robot by Associate Professor XiaoQi Chen (Mechanical Engineering). The robot can operate on all kinds of surfaces – concrete, glass, wood, fabric – and on surfaces with cracks or gaps.

The students identified possible commercial applications including site inspections, repair work, cleaning, painting and surveillance. The students then focused on the technology’s potential for use in hydroelectric power stations and talked to Meridian about possibilities for carrying out safer inspections of its penstocks.
Corey, a graduate mechatronics engineer and a current master of engineering management student, said pitching the idea to companies was relatively easy as the team knew it had good technology.


Best Student Paper award at IEEE Conference

Postgraduate research work "A novel wall climbing device based on Bernoulli effect" won the Best Student Paper Award in 2008 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications (MESA08), Beijing, China, October 12-15, 2008.

The research was conducted by Mr. Matthias Wagner under the supervision of Professor XiaoQi Chen. Mr. Matthias' presentation with the video clip "Wall climbing robot in action" was well received by the participants. As the Award Committee Chair commented, the work embodies a very innovative approach to overcome the difficulties for a robot to traverse on walls of different materials and surface conditions "

2008 Elevator Action Cup for ENMT201

For the first time, a cup was set for the design project - Computer Control of Five-Storey Elevator - for the course ENMT201. The best team will win the Elevator Action Cup.

2008 Canterbury RoboCup set for ENMT301

For the first time, a cup was set for the mechatronic system design - Canterbury Robot Search and Rescue - for the course ENMT301. The best team will win the Canterbury RoboCup.


In 2007 Mechatronics staff members Prof. J. Geoffrey Chase, Prof XiaoQi Chen, and Dr. Wenhui Wang won two Best Conference Paper Awards

The research team led by Prof. J. Geoffrey Chase and Prof XiaoQi Chen won Best Paper in Applications, for contribution to solving an important practical problem in mechatronic and embedded systems, at the 2007 ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Application, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 4-7, 2007.

Dr Wenhui Wang won the SpansionTM Best Conference Paper Award at the annual IEEE Conference on Automation Science and Engineering 2007 (CASE 2007), held in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, September 22-25, 2007. Dr. Wang was the leading author of the winning paper entitled “Autonomous Zebrafish Embryo Injection Using a Microrobotic System.”

New Mechatronics Director

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Chen has been appointed the new Director of Mechatronics.