Dubai Startup Junkbot Launches Fight Corona Robotic Championship To Support Pandemic Response Efforts In The UAE The virtual initiative is designed to encourage young minds in the UAE to build new inventions to support COVID-19 response and recovery using its Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-based innovative DIY robotics kit.

By Megha Merani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Junkbot
Junkbot team

They've been disinfecting spaces, delivering food, dispensing medication, acquiring patient information, monitoring vital stats and more to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers across the globe fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

As governments worldwide and in the Gulf enforce quarantines, social distancing, and a raft of other measures aimed at containing the highly contagious pandemic, including closing schools and universities, robots have intervened to help minimize infection risk by limiting human-to-human contact.

And to accelerate the potential applications of robotics to also carry out urgent pandemic-related tasks, Dubai-based do-it-yourself (DIY) robot kits startup Junkbot has launched a Fight Corona Robotic Championship.

The virtual initiative is designed to encourage young minds in the UAE to build new inventions to support COVID-19 response and recovery using its Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-based innovative DIY robotics kit.

The competition is open to ages 10 to 25, and registrations start from April 12 till May 15, 2020.

"In the wake of the current situation this is an opportunity for all of us to show support and give back to society," Junkbot's Chief Operating Officer Abdus Samad said. "We find students are always full of creative ideas and excited to build something new– and now that they're all at home as a result of the virus outbreak, not only is this is an engaging learning activity, but it is also an opportunity that empowers them to become a part of the cause, share knowledge, and feel a sense of purpose in contributing to the fight against COVID-19."

Related: A Guide To The Relief And Stimulus Measures Offered For Businesses In Dubai Amid The COVID-19 Crisis

Nearly 1.8 million people across 213 countries have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus, and more than 113,849 have died according to latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). Many countries and communities continue to endure several weeks of social and economic restrictions as part of efforts to contain spread of the infection.

Those who signup for the challenge online will receive a robotic hardware kit delivered to their home, along with access to 10 online video lessons to help them build their projects. The invention must then be uploaded to the challenge's online platform and shared on social media for a chance to help combat the virus as well as win AED 5,000.

Junkbot's DIY robotics kit

Each DIY kit contains a programmable brain, sensors, motions, actuators, recycled cardboard building blocks, powering cable and a project guide that enables participants of any skill level to create and build sustainable working robots from almost anything. It can transform household objects such as plastic bottles, old CDs, wooden spoons or cardboard in to unique, imaginative robots programmed for a variety of functions.

A kit costs AED314 with some expected to be sponsored by corporates and academic institutions. "We have identified around 500 residents who are interested to participate in the initiative, and we are currently looking for corporate sponsors," Samad said.

Meanwhile the challenge, supported by Brand Dubai and Proudly From Dubai, has joined hands with various stakeholders including education providers, corporates, SMEs, and members of the general public, to drive awareness. The initiative also helps students get hands-on experience in designing, programming, analytical thinking, problem solving, prototyping, lateral thinking and project management, Samad added.

"Participants are encouraged to build projects that can spread awareness and help prevent the spread of the virus, like a hand sanitizer dispenser gadget, alarm system to wash hands, food delivery robot, and waste collection bin robot," he said. "But there is no limit to the ideas. We look forward to seeing new inventions from students that could play an instrumental role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic."

For more information and to signup, visit fightcorona.junkbot.co.

This article was originally published on Dubai Startup Hub and has been reposted on Entrepreneur Middle East based on a mutual agreement between the websites.

Related: Dubai-Based Searchie Adapts Its Tech Offering To Help With COVID-19 Testing

Megha Merani

Independent Journalist

Megha Merani is an independent journalist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Her stories have made headlines across a number of publications including Reuters, Associated Press, Entrepreneur Middle EastBloomberg Middle East, Arabian Gulf Business Insight, Arabian Business, and former local daily 7DAYS.

Megha also produces editorial for government platforms including the World Government Summit and World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils. She has been a grant winner of the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The Global Initiative Against Organized Crime funded by the government of Norway to report on the online trade in illegal wildlife.

Megha is also an Associate Fellow (AFHEA) at Murdoch University in Dubai and leads its Digital Newsroom course unit. In addition, Megha serves as a United Nations Women mentor to support equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and supports various other programs including TIE Women, 60 Day Startups, and the Watt Inc. Business Incubator.

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