Kelwin Chew, Tee Lian Shun and Seaw Jun Bao at the 2018 International Final in Thailand, where ten teams participated in the Future Innovators program. The program was first tested in Costa Rica in 2017. The final concept will be part of the National Final in 2020.
A lot of creativity and thought goes into projects presented at the WRO® International Final. That is also true of a team from Malaysia, who made a robot factory to help hunger victims – by automated production of peanut butter.
The three teenagers Kelwin, Tee and Seaw, read about the new Future Innovators program on the World Robot Olympiad™ website and thought it sounded interesting. So they joined. Their project had three objectives: to grow a plant, to process the plant in a sustainable way and to transport the product to famine victims. They needed a good idea for a project, which came about after visiting a local organic farm in Malaysia. They asked the farmer for suggestions on how to increase productivity and produce compost, while maintaining quality.
"Peanut plants were chosen because the planting process is easier to automate using robots compared to other plants. The same goes for watering, fertilizing and harvesting. And it doesn't hurt that peanut butter is rich in calcium and protein," says Kelwin Chew.
The peanut butter production is also easy to automate, which the team discovered through Youtube videos. Finally, they finetuned the idea with their mentor.
The three-step peanut butter production plan
It took the team three months to work out a three-step system: A compost factory shredding peanut shells, with a tumbler machine speeding up the composting process, effectively creating organic fertilizer. A Peanut farm consisting of a GrowBot and a FarmBot. And the peanut butter factory, where the peanuts are transported to after harvesting, then washed in a washing machine, moved to a roasting machine, then fed into a cooling machine before entering the grinder. The peanut butter is then packed and taken to the harbour, where the WaterBot will take it to famine victims.
After the National Final the team modified parts of the project, that needed to be more stable. Next stop was a science fair at their school, where they exhibited PeanutBotz, giving their schoolmates a chance to see how it worked and to ask questions before heading for WRO.
First time but got good feedback
It was the first time the team and their couch took part in the Future Innovators program, which is new in itself, and they felt the lack of experience. But they still feel like they learned a lot from the experience: showing their slides and practicing with their robots.
"We got ideas for improvements, received positive comments and were told that our project was creative. We also learned that we should have researched more on how to present," Kelwin Chew says.
Robotic camp at school
The three team mates won't compete in 2019, as they have exams coming up. But they are not finished with WRO just yet: they are sharing their WRO experiences with 30-40 members of their school's robotic club. Kelwin Chew says:
"We planned a two-day robotic camp to share our experiences from last year’s competition, and to train and prepare new participants."
When asked what the best part about the Future Innovators program was, the answer is that the team got to promote their project and learned how to present from a business model perspective.
What the team will most likely pass on to their fellow students at robotic camp is what they learned while designing and building their automated factory: the key to success is to help each other, think positive and not give up easily. Then you can face any problem.