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Robot prototypes battle for cash prize in Singapore

TechX challenges Singapore robot builders.

Team Azrobowar with handmade battle bot. DSTA

It's back. TechX Challenge, the Singapore death-bot battle, has spit out six finalists who are competing for the S$1 million prize and a chance to further this city state's vision of an army on autopilot.

The competition is sponsored by Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA). The stated objective is to develop an indigenous defense capability for Singapore, but a breakthrough in autonomous, unmanned ground vehicle technology wouldn't hurt weapons sales either.

Experience and resources for the teams that weathered the May semi-finals run the gamut from bootstrap amateurs to international collaborations backed by big name universities and six figure budgets.

The five man Team Azrobowar pooled $8,000 to field a wheelchair motor powered, game controller steered, 118kg robot incorporating scavenged parts and off-the-shelve webcams. While at the other end of the spectrum, Team SP-Freiburg - a 20 person Singapore Polytechnic and Germany's University of Freiburg based its entry on a prefab TELEMAX robot designed for EOD work.

Finalists will be required to autonomously navigate through both indoor and outdoor environments, overcome obstacles-not the least of which will be to find and push the right elevator botton-then engage their targets before finding their way home. The team with the fastest robot that completes all assigned tasks wins the prize-about $700,000 at the current exchange rate.

The other teams are TP Robotics Team from Temasek Polytechnic, the FantasticFour - from Nanyang Technological University's School of Electrical Engineering, Evolution - from NTU Robotics Research Centre and X-1 from the National University of Singapore and the Institute for Infocomm Research.

Our friends at Popular Mechanics have a man on the spot, you can check for updates here.