A student team led by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) was awarded 1st runner-up at the Student Competition of 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS) in London on September 13, 2019, where 15 student teams from around the world competed on solutions that address the world’s grand challenges in engineering.

The Hong Kong team won the competition with “ClearBot”, an AI-powered, autonomous plastic-collecting robotic solution that took aim at the global ocean plastic epidemic.

The 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit, co-hosted by the US National Academy of Engineering, the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering is the 4th in a series of biennial international event where world leaders, engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs convene to share their views and innovations to sustain our future world. An important part of the GGCS is its Student Competition, where the best young engineering students from around the world address the questions “Can we sustain 10 billion people?” and “Will AI and other transformational technologies change humanity for the better?” with innovative solutions.

The HKU team first won the local competition organised by the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences (HKAES) among five universities from Hong Kong in June 2019 with an early prototype of “ClearBot”. The HKU team, comprised of Angel Woo Chung-yu (BEng(CompSc)) , Utkarsh Goel (BEng(CompSc)), Ahmed Abbas Alvi (BEng(ME)), Ma Jiacheng (BSc(ActuarSc)) and Sidhant Gupta (BEng(CE)), was coached by Dr. Hayden Kwok-Hay So of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, HKU through the support of the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing and the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Fund. Upon winning the local competition, the HKU team was joined by Padmanabhan Krishnamurthy from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Theresa Yip Man Yee from the City University of Hong Kong to form a Joint University Team of Hong Kong under the direction of Dr. So to compete as one of the China teams on the world stage.

The award-winning project, “ClearBot”, represents a truly multi-disciplinary solution that puts heavy emphasis on the relationship between technology and the people who are most affected by this plastic epidemic. From the initial experiential learning trip to Bali, to the open-source software/hardware development model, the development of “ClearBot” remains hinged on the belief that real-world impact can only be achieved by engaging the target communities at every step.

HKU Dean of Engineering Professor Christopher Chao was delighted about the remarkable performance of the team. He said: “At HKU Engineering, we focus in nurturing students with an all-rounded development. Students are encouraged to acquire hands-on experience and equip themselves with a global outlook. We are delighted to see our students’ achievements and growth in the international competition. The team truly demonstrated the power of collective wisdom.”

Dr. Kit Chui, Director of Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing, said: “We emphasise on student experiential learning. It is definitely a remarkable experience for our students. We would also like to thank our donors, including Mr. and Mrs. Tam Wing Fan and our alumni for their supports throughout the project.”

Professor Ching Pak Chung, President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences (HKAES), said: “HKAES strives to pursue, encourage and maintain excellence in the entire field of engineering to useful purpose in order to promote the advancement of the science, art and practice of engineering for the benefit of the public. We always fosters education and training of engineers. The student team had joined forces from various universities in Hong Kong and representing China in the national competition. We are proud to see their outstanding achievements in the GGCS 2019 Student Competition.”

For more details about  "ClearBot", please visit http://innowing.hk/clearbot/.