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Global A.I. Champion – Pride of Malaysia

July 10, 2020 | Campus News
Team “PestKillerBot” is the pride of Asia & Malaysia, as the World Champion of the Atos Global IT Challenge 2020. From left:Yeo Khang Hsien, Loo Chee Hin, Hemalata Vasudavan, Yong Ee Ren and Andrew Chung Hui Yue.

Asia Pacific University (APU) Team is the World Champion at the Atos IT Challenge 2020

Kuala Lumpur, 9th July 2020: An innovative concept of improving floriculture using cooperative artificial intelligence (AI) technology and pest-killing drones landed Team PestKillerBot of Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) in glory, as the team attained the Global Championship of the Atos IT Challenge 2020.

The team stood out among teams from 27 countries – including Germany, China, France, India, United Kingdom (UK) etc. The 1st Runner Up award went to Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey, Mexico whereas Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Croatia walked away as the 2nd Runner Up of the Challenge. A Special Jury Prize was also awarded to Loughborough University, United Kingdom.

"Tremendous achievement, a very good job performed by the team. It is a remarkable success - we are proud of the team, who has managed to outperform other teams worldwide, despite the current circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has placed Malaysia on the global technology map, and we have again, proven that our students are highly capable to compete with IT talents around the world," said Datuk Parmjit Singh, CEO of APIIT Education Group.

This is the 9th installment of the Atos Global IT Challenge – an international competition organised by Atos to empower students from around the world to develop applications connected to major trends in the digital revolution. This year, theme of the competition was ‘Cooperative Artificial Intelligence’; participating teams were required to develop real-world solutions using Machine Learning technologies. Back in 2019, under the theme of “Machine Learning for Sustainability”, the Atos Global IT Challenge was championed by the Technical University of Berlin.

Team “PestKillerBot” comprises Loo Chee Hin (team leader), Andrew Chung Hui Yue, Yong Ee Ren, and Yeo Khang Hsien, students of the Intelligent Systems and Cloud Computing programmes at APU. Their project, the “PestKillerBot”, is an innovative and easy-to-use application that eliminates pests in floricultural fields using drones that perform pest control and data collection through cooperative AI technology. Over the 9 months of preparation, the students have developed a drone prototype with a 3D printer and several components.

Every shortlisted team was coached and mentored by Atos staff worldwide. Team “PestKillerBot” received guidance from Andy Wallace, Head of Client Innovation, Atos UK & Ireland.

“It has been my pleasure and my honour to coach and mentor the team from Asia Pacific University in Kuala Lumpur in the 2020 Atos IT Challenge. The topic; of Cooperative Artificial Intelligence, was a challenging one, made more so by the global lockdown caused by Covid-19. The Team from APU worked tirelessly to produce a superb application that wowed the judges and secured them the first place, ahead of excellent teams from prestigious universities in Croatia and Mexico,” said Wallace.

Due to the needs for social distancing & travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, a Digital Awards Ceremony took place virtually, via a live telecast aired from Paris, France. Team “PestKillerBot” was announced as the Global Winner among the Top 3 Finalists at the ceremony.

“Every difficulty makes up the steps to climb the stairs of success, we are glad that we didn't give up and gave ourselves a try to climb to the top. Our team has worked hard and we are overwhelmed that we brought pride to Malaysia - Malaysia Boleh!" expressed Loo at the Digital Award Ceremony.

Both teams were representations from the University’s School of Computing & Technology. “We are extremely pleased with the achievement of our students. It's pleasing to note that their innovative solution to control pests in floriculture farming using intelligent agent drones had enabled them to be the winner. The overall package presented by our team had elements of a business case, hardware-software integrated system, a proof of concept and finally a prototype - the right ingredients for a winning solution!” said Dr. Hari Narayanan, Vice Chancellor of APU.

As the Champion of the competition, Team “PestKillerBot” walked away with €10,000. In addition, each student was offered the opportunity to do either an internship at Atos or to work together with the company to develop their project.

This is not APU’s first encounter to be qualified for the Atos’ Global IT Challenge Grand Finals. Back in 2016, Team “Go and Gone” were the only Asian & Malaysian finalist at the Challenge, in which they eventually bagged the 1st Runner Up position.

Academic mentor for Teams “Go and Gone” and “PestKillerBot” was Hemalata Vasudavan, lecturer of APU’s School of Technology. “The team demonstrated persistence, hard work, and flexibility, in addition to a thorough grasp of Artificial Intelligence concepts. It has been a pleasure to witness the team' s technical ability to gain huge victory in this Atos IT Challenge 2020,” said Hemalata.

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