With 68 per cent of the world’s population expected to make cities their dwelling place by 2050, sustainable urban living in smart cities will increasingly become mainstream discourse.
In harvesting possible solutions to future-proof our cities and its inhabitants, the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) recently organised the “Reimagine The Way We Live in Cities” Design Challenge which drew in the participation of 690 youths aged between 18 and 30 years old.
University teams from related fields of mechatronics, robotics and automation, produced 43 physical prototypes in three focus areas: social inclusive, environmental regenerative and self-sustainable cities.
The groundbreaking creation from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) named Fast Harvest, emerged as the victorious innovation. Their Automated Oil Palm Harvesting Machine aims to address the labour shortage problem in the palm oil plantation sector. This ground breaking machine utilises a robotic arm with haptic feedback, allowing workers to control it using natural arm movements. With increased harvesting efficiency, precision, and user-friendliness, this innovative solution aims to revolutionise palm oil harvesting.
“Sustainable urbanisation is key to a country’s successful development – and the ideas presented to redefine living in Malaysian cities involving future industries, societies and communities are an indication of the bright talent we have in Malaysia,” said Dzuleira Abu Bakar, Chief Executive Officer, MRANTI.
From an artificial-intelligence-powered walking stick to assist the vision-impaired and elderly, to a natural fibre drone frame kit made from Kenaf wood to replace synthetic plastic and metals, to a self-sustaining hydration system for agriculture, this year’s teams produced a number of groundbreaking smart cities prototypes that can unlock an exciting future.
This further shows that Malaysia has an abundance of STI/STEM talent, and initiatives like this design challenge offer a clear avenue for these young innovators to further pursue their passion in these fields.
“We are targeting top winning solutions to be channelled to the James Dyson Award, accelerator programmes and other initiatives for real-world application,” said Dzuleira.
Held in conjunction with World Engineering Day 2023, the Challenge drew in 50 percent more participants this year, representing increased interest from youths to design and develop solutions that will improve the way we live, work and play.
“This has been a fantastic learning opportunity for us to contribute to the development of sustainable cities, and help shape impact on sustainable agriculture and resource management,” said Ephraim Teh Khai Ee from UTM Fast Harvest team.
Besides the RM10K grand prize, the team also bagged the SCUTTLE Special Prize worth RM1,000 together with SCUTTLE Raspberry Pi and 2D Lidar robotic kit, sponsored by SCUTTLE Robotics Asia PLT.
The winning solution was selected from 10 shortlisted participating institutions of higher learning across Malaysia and Singapore. Teams were given one-on-one coaching sessions with two-day free access pass to the new 5,000 sq ft MRANTI MakersLab for prototyping their solutions across the 12-week programme.
“A better world begins with each one of us. By harmonising our activities and programmes according to the MRANTI Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Framework, we are accelerating various initiatives to minimise our carbon footprint,” said Dzuleira. She explained the organising team measured last year’s carbon footprint from the event and aims to reduce the kgCO2/e per participant by offering new meals, cutlery and commuting options to reduce the Challenge’s environmental impact this year.
“Plans are underway for more green energy initiatives across MRANTI Park. Amongst others, we will initiate the use of smart mobility or autonomous vehicles and shuttle services, optimise delivery routes for logistics and commute, and reduce power consumption.
“Engineering a better future involves looking at ways to improve not just our infrastructure, products and solutions but also the process, systems and outputs for better carbon-balanced living,” she said.
The MRANTI “Reimagine The Way We Live in Cities” Design Challenge was held in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), James Dyson and SCUTTLE.
The Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation- MRANTI, a convergence of Technology Park Malaysia (TPM Corp) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) is Malaysia’s central research commercialisation agency that fast-tracks the development of technology innovations from ideas to impact.
MRANTI serves as a connector, incubator and catalyst to enable early-stage ideation to mature entities to commercialise and scale. MRANTI offers innovators and industry access to world-class integrated infrastructure, programmes, services, facilities and a suite of resources. In doing so, MRANTI aims to expand Malaysia’s funnel of innovation supply, and unlock new R&D value by ensuring effective transitions in the commercialisation lifecycle. It will also link academia with industry and the public sector to streamline market-driven R&D efforts for mission-based outcomes.
MRANTI is headquartered at MRANTI Park, an extensive 686 acre 4IR innovation hub in Kuala Lumpur, supporting the growth of smart manufacturing, biotech, agritech, smart city, green tech and enabling technology clusters.