Team Atlas: Building robots to solve practical problems

April 12, 2023

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From spraying fertilisers to firefighting, Sunny Jubayer and his Team Atlas built robots that could be used for specific purposes. The inventions won many accolades for them as well.

From sowing seeds to spraying fertilisers to transporting crops, Fremo – a multi-purpose agricultural robot – can do it all. The robot is particularly designed to make a farmer’s job easier. What is more, the robot can gather information about the pH level, temperature, sunlight and other important data that would come in handy in harvesting crops.

This mechanical companion of the farmer – intended to help in better planning and management of crops – is the latest and one of many robots made by Team Atlas, a band of robot enthusiast university goers in Dhaka.

Recently, they became runners-up at Techkriti ’23, an international technical and entrepreneurial festival held at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, India. They won the award showcasing their farming robot – Fremo.

Prior to that, this same project also won a gold medal at Indonesia International Science and Innovation Fair. Two hundred teams from 32 different countries participated in the fair. “Back in 2015, when I was an eighth grader at Motijheel Ideal School, I was first introduced to the world of robotics at a science festival in school. I was fascinated by robots. And the experience ignited a continued passion. Then I found like-minded friends who shared my enthusiasm for robotics,” Jubayer shared. The next year Team Atlas was formed. Their journey began by participating in school contests, followed by college and university competitions, and national hackathons conducted by the ICT division. 

Fremo – A Farming Robot. Photo: Courtesy

Their very first project – an eco-friendly robot – was a hit, and became the champion at their school.

“It was a new feeling for me, because I did not think our project would get the first prize. And that win encouraged me to stick to robots,” shared Jubayer. Over the years, they have undertaken various robotics projects and participated in numerous competitions.

“We competed against different college and university teams when we were still in school. Soon, our flagship project, the Mars Rover, won the National Robotic Challenge in 2016 held at NSU,” said Jubayer.

They participated in various competitions throughout the country and won seventeen national championships.

Sunny Jubayer and his team won several national and international robotics championships. Photo: Courtesy

“I loved tinkering with various electronics, which eventually led me to further explore the field of robotics,” Jubayer said, speaking of his lifelong fascination with powerful engines and transformers.

He completed his SSC in 2018 and HSC in 2020 from Dhaka College and he is currently pursuing CSE at Brac University. But one thing remains the same – his passion to work with robotics.

Usually, Team Atlas’ primary focus is to design robots that solve practical problems. For instance, a robot named Defender can be deployed to combat a fire accident.

“In light of increasing fires related accidents in our country, there is a growing need for advanced technological solutions. We have designed the robot for exactly this purpose.”

The robot can swiftly locate the source of a fire and bring it under control. The robot’s mission begins with identifying the main source of the fire, followed by using its advanced technology to assess the severity of the spread and extinguish the flames. Additionally, the robot provides various services to people trapped in the fire, enhancing its overall effectiveness in fire control.

“Advanced robots can play a vital role in controlling extreme fire situations, such as the Banga Bazar fire incident. Many countries worldwide are already utilising automated systems for fire control. Our indigenous technology can be utilised to create even more effective robots in the local context,” said Jubayer.

Earlier in 2021, Team Atlas was honoured with the Digital Bangladesh Award for this Defender project. Speaking about the project, he stated, “We created the Defender with funding from the ICT division. In the next three months, we will go for a practical trial with Defender.” At home and abroad, they have received plenty of awards. By 2018, having already won 35 national prizes, they decided to go international. Most notably, they were among the finalists in the World Robotics Championship in India in 2022. Meanwhile, they also earned the prestigious title of Galactic Problem Solver in the NASA Space Apps Challenge in both 2021 and 2022.

Team Atlas builds their robots with inexpensive materials. Photo: Courtesy

Apart from the team achievements, Jubayer has had some remarkable individual accomplishments as well.

“I won a Gold Medal in the Bangladesh Robot Olympiad 2019 and a Bronze Medal representing Bangladesh in the 2019 International Robot Olympiad held in Thailand,” he shared.

During the pandemic, the team participated in the online international festival ‘Coronathon’, organised by the ICT division and Daffodil University. They developed an affordable automatic ventilator, which earned them the championship title.

In the 2021 National Robotic Challenge, they presented Sigma 20, a firefighting robot that won them the championship and is now on display at the National Science and Technology Museum. The museum has made it a permanent exhibit.

The team also has plans to venture into advanced submarine robotics and automobile engineering.

“We aim to develop a low-cost and eco-friendly car and have already started working on engine modifications. We plan to participate in competitions like formula racing where different student car projects are showcased and compete against each other,” said Jubayer.

In 2019, Team Atlas participated in the World Robotic Championship held at Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi, India. The competition saw over 2,500 teams from around the world competing in various categories, including robot racing. Team Atlas became the second-best country team and 13th as a team, with the first 12 teams being from India.

That same year, they also began exploring underwater robots alongside their work on the Mars Rover and basic robot segments. Despite facing several challenges due to the unavailability of expensive and advanced technology in Bangladesh, Team Atlas managed to make it to the shortlist teams at Singapore Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (SAUVC).

While they did not have a good frame or a special submersible motor for their underwater robot project, they managed to exceed their expectations. Their ability to use local technology and their own ingenuity was a significant accomplishment for the young team.

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