Spanish team FADA-CATEC to participate at MBZIRC 2017

The Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (FADA-CATEC), the University of Seville, and the GMV Company will attend this prestigious event which will bring together main universities and research centres in the area of robotics worldwide, with participants from the United States, Europe and Asia.

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) competition, organized by the University of Khalifa, poses some technological challenges for participants to overcome through the use of autonomous robots, such as landing an aerial system on a moving car, using a ground robot to locate a work zone and perform maintenance tasks with a robotic arm, or pick up in flight and transporting objects moving on the ground.

The combined team of FADA-CATEC, in collaboration with the University of Seville and the GMV Innovating Solutions company, is the only Spanish group of researchers that received funding from the organization to compete in the event.

The event counts on 2 million dollars in prizes to the winners and will take place in March 2017 in Abu Dhabi.

Seville (Spain), November 7th 2016- A team of researchers from the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (FADA-CATEC), the University of Seville, and the company GMV Innovating Solutions has been selected to participate in one of the biggest international robotics competitions, the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC), organized by the University of Khalifa to be held in March 2017 in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).

The MBZIRC competition aims to expose the latest advances, scientific findings and technologies in the world of robotics, as well as to foster new research in this area for the future. All of participating researchers and scientists from countries all over the world will have to overcome various challenges posed by the organization by using autonomous aerial or ground robots.

The team made up of FADA-CATEC, the University of Seville, and GMV is called “AL ROBOTICS,” and is the only Spanish team that received funding from the organization to participate in the competition. The team also received support from an Andalusian company, Dronetools, which is participating as a sponsor of the event.

The competition has received 143 applications from 35 countries, with most of the applications coming from leading robotics laboratories at top universities, technology institutes and robotic centres in the world, but only 46 teams will participate in the end.

Some of the international universities represented are major institutions from the United States, such as Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Cal Tech and Berkley; from Europe universities such as ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Edinburgh (United Kingdom), or the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Italy); furthermore there are participants from Asia including the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo (Japan), or the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia). Other countries represented are China, Canada, Russia, Germany, Holland, France, Czech Republic, Denmark, Singapore, Malaysia, Portugal, Greece, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.

FADA-CATEC will provide its experience in diverse R&D European projects, in which it has already achieved important milestones like the development of systems of robotic manipulation with articulated arms integrated in aerial robots for use in various tasks, or the landing of autonomous helicopters in a mobile platform carried by a moving ground vehicle. Also, the team has notably participated in the organization of the first competition in the world with unmanned multi-domain systems, with robots and developed prototypes for the use in land, sea and air.

The competition: three challenges

The MBZIRC initiative includes three challenges that participants have to overcome. The first one requires an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to locate, track and land on top of a moving ground vehicle, without knowing where initially the car is, nor its trajectory. The second challenge requires an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to locate and reach a second ground vehicle, and locate and physically operate a valve on a side of the vehicle.

The last challenge requires a team of UAVs to collaborate to search, locate, track, pick and place a set of static and moving objects. The participating teams that the organization considers the winners of the different challenges will receive two million dollars in prizes.

The AL-ROBOTICS team has successfully overcome the first phase of the competition with excellent ratings on its “First Progress Report” by the evaluation committee of the competition. In this first phase, they have developed advanced algorithms for the first three challenges of the competition and have developed and integrated unmanned aircraft and robots (UAVs), including an innovative anchoring system for mobile platforms and a flexible and strong latch system for objects.

From now on, the team will focus on the integration of the developed algorithms and flight testing until November when the second phase will be evaluated before travelling to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), for the competition in March 2017

More information about the competition:

Video simulation with the three challenges of the competition:



CATEC is an advanced technology center that contributes to the improving the competitiveness of aerospace companies in the aerospace sector, through scientific research, technology transfer and advanced services. It is also supported by the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA), and it is a unique private center in Spain for its wide technological capabilities and highly skilled workforce of more than 65 specialists and technicians, most of them with University degrees.

CATEC has become one of the most active technology centers in national and European R&D projects, standing out specifically in fields like Unmanned Aero Systems (UAS/RPAS). It counts on a team of over 20 engineers and technicians working in this area, and has participated or participates in over 30 projects related to UAS, including various European programs like the VII Programme Framework and Horizon 2020 Programmes of the European Commission and the SESAR initiative.

CATEC currently works in more than 60 R&D projects, both with public research organizations and with private companies, leading several initiatives under the mentioned VII Framework Programme and H2020 of the European Commission.

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