Canadian University Dubai team wins U-start enterprise competition

Students’ autonomous robot innovation offers safe solution to disarm explosives

An autonomous robotics device that can disarm explosives, developed by students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD), has won first place in the U-start enterprise competition, staged recently at the Innovation Arabia 15 Conference and Exhibition. 

Developed by mechatronics engineering students, Mohammad Faieq and Hajer Ben Mnaouer, with cyber security major, Issraa Ben Mnaouer, the device, known as Robosafe, is designed to provide a high-tech, safe, and cost-effective solution to neutralize hazardous environments. Using artificial intelligence to mimic the natural movement of a four-legged animal, Robosafe has the capacity to deactivate bombs and mines in war zones, carry objects around unsafe sites, and recognize faces to monitor suspicious activity. 

Presenting their innovation in front of a panel of judges representing government departments and industry organizations, the team was up against 11 other groups in the final of the U-start competition, which brought together aspiring entrepreneurs from a range of technology and business disciplines. Impressing the panel with their prototype design and the business plan behind it, the CUD team went on to take first place in the competition and will now have access to expert mentoring and support to take their project forward.

Speaking about the motivation behind Robosafe, Mohammad said, “Accessing dangerous areas such as mines, collision sites, explosive sites, and areas affected by radioactivity is a major challenge. Companies and employees working in these hazardous environments are putting their health at risk, which could ultimately lead to major legal cases. While employers may consider the use of robots to replace their employees, problems arise when they develop devices that lack the modifications required to fit their needs, and costs can escalate quickly.”

Issraa continued, “Our aim is to provide cost-effective industrial robots to help companies cut expenditure and increase productivity. Robosafe is a low-cost product with a futuristic and innovative design based on an open-source platform. It is made using modular technology that will allow it to be fully customized to meet different client needs.”

As part of the competition, the three students from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology were tasked with developing a business plan to demonstrate how they would turn their innovation into a viable enterprise. Hajer explained, “The competition required us to focus on the business as well as the technology side of innovation. In addition to developing a prototype, we had to conduct a competitor analysis, develop a marketing plan and produce a cost-benefit analysis, which gave us real-world experience of some key business disciples.”

Supervising the students in the project as part of their course, Assistant Professor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Gindy, said, “Entrepreneurship is embedded in the curriculum at CUD, and we are delighted to see students putting into practice what they learn through competitions like U-Smart. Our goal in the enterprise courses is to enable students to test the feasibility of their ideas and bring their innovations to life. The team’s success in this competition demonstrates that their studies have prepared them well to be the innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.”

The team received their winner’s certificates at the conclusion of the 15th edition of the Innovation Arabia Conference and Exhibition, which was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and President of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, under the theme ‘Innovation Everywhere’.

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