The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) and the Department of eLearning have teamed up for the Malta Robotics Olympiad. This activity aimed to bring young people together to develop their creativity and problem solving skills through challenging and educational robotics competitions.

The IICT team composed of four students (Noel Mizzi, Brendan Schembri, John Fenech and Ian Chetcuti) and an MCAST IICT assistant lecturer (Mr Franco Farrugia) came up with a Robotic Prescrption Dispensing System. The scope of this project was to aid a variety of patients in acquiring medication without any physical need of medical staff.

This medication will limit itself to distributing pills at a required timetable. The patient can have visual impairment disability and the sound signal will cater for this. The patient can have hearing impairment disability and the face recognition feature will cater for this.

As a team they researched what hardware and software should be used and also extra features that the robot should have to be more efficient. As hardware they worked out that it was needed the container of the raspberry pie and of the whole machine as well as other components such as the rotating pill container. As software it was much more demanding as they had to research the best code to use in Python to control the mechanism of the rotating container. They also had to develop a website with the use of PHP and MySQL to control and store data of the robot.

As for the development of the robot the first step they had to do in this project is to figure out all the hardware that was going to be used. This of course didn’t turn out accurate but it was very important to start building the initial mechanism this was all done using Raspberry Pi  powered by a 6V battery to run the motor mechanism. In the raspberry pie they also implemented two USB slots, one HDMI slot and a network slot.

The robot consisted of a wheel divided into eight compartments which holds the necessary pills.  An electrical motor that turns the wheel according to the configured time that the professional staff  or care takers have programmed. An empty slot where the suitable compartment will turn unto itself and where a patient can than retrieve pills.

Overall eleven participants took part in our category. During the day the MCAST IICT participated in the Open Category and registered at 9am at the Cottonera Sports Complex, and proceeded to set up their stands. At around 12:30 they presented all the research and development done throughout these past months in a form of a video and Prezi presentation to ten judges.

The general public, including parents and other students were invited to attend this event, including robotic workshops. Moreover, Prof. Tony Dyson, the man that built the World’s most lovable Robot ‘R2-D2’ as featured in all the STAR WARS movies, attended the MRO event for the day. He conducted a keynote speech about ‘Robots of the Future’ at around 2:00pm.

The competition was harsh but the MCAST IICT managed to achieve first place and they were awarded the MRO 2014 school trophy, student medals and certificates.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our newly appointed Acting Director Mr Conrad Vassallo and MCAST IICT Assistant Lecturers Mr. Robert Abela and Mr. Jean Paul Tabone for their input and guidance to make sure the first place was a guarantee.

 Well Done to the IICT team for winning first place and especially for their hard work and endeavour !!