Home' InDaily : August 26th 2010 Contents 2|Vol21No7August2010
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Flinders robots through to war games final
A consortium led by Flinders University is
the only Australian finalist in MAGIC
2010, an international challenge to
develop the next generation of
A joint initiative of Australia's Defence
Science and Technology Organisation
and the US Department of Defence,
the MAGIC 2010 grand final will be
held at Adelaide's Royal Showground
Team MAGICian (Multiple Autonomous
Ground-vehicle International Challenge
by Intelligent Autonomous Navigators)
comprises researchers and students from
Flinders School of Computer Science,
Engineering and Mathematics, the
University of Western Australia's
Department of Electrical and Electronic
Engineering, Edith Cowan University and
industry partners Thales and Illiarc.
It also enjoys in-kind support and the
provision of equipment from sponsors
Allied Data Systems, Logitech, SICK
And as do each of the five teams against
which they will compete, Team
MAGICian will receive US$50,000 in
addition to the US$50,000 it has already
received to complete work on its robots.
institutional investors are actually better
at environmental reporting. Professor Tilt
said a broader study of more varied
companies is required to confirm the link.
"We hope to consider this issue next year
as part of Kathy's PhD thesis,"
Professor Tilt said.
"Kathy also plans to interview Board
members to try to understand how these
sorts of decisions are made," she said.
Professor Tilt said the study has
implications for regulators such as the
Australian Stock Exchange which wants
to increase corporate responsiveness and
accountability to shareholders and
experience and knowledge and offer
better advice, other studies have said
large boards can also suffer from a lack of
communication, slow decision-making,
and a lack of unanimity that ultimately
reduces board effectiveness and
efficiency," Mrs Kathyayini said.
The Flinders study, however, found that
as board size increased, so did the level of
And while there has been speculation
that the presence of institutional
investors would mitigate against
disclosure, the study found that
companies with high levels of
A much greater bounty awaits the top
three ranked teams to successfully
complete the challenge, which will
receive US$750,000, US$250,000 and
Professor David Powers, MAGICian team
leader and Director of Flinders Artificial
Intelligence, Knowledge Discovery and
Language Technologies Laboratories, said
the critical dimension of the challenge
was that each team was required to
demonstrate the robots' ability to
operate autonomously as they map their
surroundings and deal with a simulated
emergency response scenario.
"The robots use a variety of
technologies -- computer processes,
infra-red sensors, cameras, an onboard
compass, as well as some 'top secret'
features we've designed -- to
autonomously map the inside and
outside of buildings and to distinguish
between potential threats and allies,"
Professor Powers said.
"Only two team members are permitted
to supervise the robots. And this is the
point: to date, it takes one or more
humans to actually control or operate
the robot. Solving this dilemma has
enormous potential for expanding the
opportunities to use robots in dangerous
situations where you want to keep
humans out of harm's way," he said.
"In addition to getting us to the finals,
a really important spin-off is that the
technology we're developing is feeding
directly into Flinders undergraduate
engineering programs and will boost
our intake of PhD candidates in the
area of robotics."
investors. There are lessons too, she said,
for directors, company strategists and the
"Companies which include a commitment
to the environment in their mission and
strategies should consider the impact of
board structure and composition, as both
of these are shown to have a significant
effect on the amount of environmental
information disclosed," Professor Tilt said.
Cover photo: Professor Carol Tilt (right) and
Mrs Kathy Kathyayini
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