Youths raise the bar in flying machine competition

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07apr18_news
07 Apr 2018 | TECHNOLOGY
Melayu 华文

Youths raise the bar in flying machine competition

// Report Thrina Tham
// Photos Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of Joshua Chao

English Melayu

When that is done, the drone surveys the extent of the damage and transports fresh water from a nearby lake to a water tank for other victims. 

This was the simulated scenario played out at this year's Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition (SAFMC), where Nanyang Polytechnic's team Supremacy completed the mission to clinch the top honours in Category D1. The category required participants to design and build a semi-autonomous platform to perform tasks in an indoor course. 

"The mission we had this year was a total game changer in terms of difficulty," said Wilson Yik, 20, who also won the same category in last year's SAFMC. 

It took his three-man team four months to design and build their drone, which included 3D-printed parts. Theirs was the only machine to complete all the tasks in the category. 

"We designed mechanisms dedicated to clearing the challenges…our 3D printed parts even includes a bonus ‘claw' so that (our drone) can to latch on to the payload without any human help," explained Mr Yik. 

Now into its 10th year, this year's competition saw its biggest showing of young aviation enthusiasts so far, with 1,628 participants from 430 teams. 

This year, the competition raised the bar with the introduction of three new sub-categories. One of the new challenges had participants navigating an indoor obstacle course via first-person-view flight. 

Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman presented awards to winners of the five categories in a ceremony held at Science Centre Singapore on 7 Apr. 

"I am proud to say that Singapore is one of the better places for aspiring innovators to see their dreams materialise…many programmes are set in place to help young talents, like yourself, discover and develop deep skills and expertise," said Dr Maliki, addressing students from across primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions and universities. 

Dr Maliki also encouraged the participants to take on roles in science and technology. "Many of you here have created drones with amazing capabilities that few would have imagined a decade ago. Imagine how much further you will go, in the next ten years and beyond." 

Organised by DSO National Laboratories (DSO), the competition has seen some of its past participants go on to careers in the aerospace industry. 

One of them is Mr Joshua Chao who took home prizes in the 2011 and 2012 editions of SAFMC when he was an undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University. 

"I first took part in SAFMC because I was researching drones and was fascinated by the capabilities on multi-rotors, that was new at the time. On top of that, the tasks were challenging and exciting," he recalled. 

Mr Chao went on to join DSO to pursue Unmanned Aerial Vehicle development as a career. He now runs his own commercial drone company. 

For more on the SAFMC, visit the official website safmc.com.sg

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