NCRA

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                    National Centre of Robotics and Automation
Introduction:
The National Centre of Robotics and Automation, founded in 2018 is a PSDP funded project under the umbrella of Higher Education Commission. It is a consortium of 11 labs established at 13 universities across Pakistan with its central headquarters at NUST College of E&ME. The centre serves as a leading technological hub in the field of Robotics and Automation

NCRA Vision:

Enabling highly skilled experts to ensue an ecosystem focused towards indigenous technology development using Robotics & Automation in pursuance of making Pakistan one of the technologically advanced nations of the world.

NCRA Mission:

In fulfillment of NCRA vision, facilitate a consortium of experts, across the country to promote Research and Development in the fields of Robotics and Automation. Subsequently, promoting Knowledge-Economy, achieving Technology Indigenization, developing highly skilled HR, and fulfilling SDGs.

Scientific and Industrial Advisory Board (SIAB)

A Scientific and Industrial Advisory Board (SIAB) has constituted to help and oversee the development of a research agenda for the NCRA and the broader allied Robotics community in the country at large. SIAB ensures fresh ideas and inclusion of locally relevant research possibilities on NCRA’s research agenda. The Scientific Advisory Board is also responsible for organizing a formal anonymous International Peer Review of the Centre every 3-years. Each member of the Board has been selected for three (3) years. NSC can replace a member, whose tenure is ending or is not willing to continue as a member, through majority voting.

SIAB Members:

Dr. Keum Shik Hong South Korea

Dr. Matthias Harders Austria

 

Dr. Manoj Karkee USA

 

Dr. Keum Shik Hong South Korea

Dr. Takeo Kanade USA/Japan

 

Dr. Karsten Berns Germany

 

Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar Founder Rastgar Industries

 

Mr. Nasir Javed USA

 

Dr. Hui Xie

China

 

 

Dr. William Mel

Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Industrial Advisory Committee:

LIAC provides feedback on the products being developed at the NCRA labs. The committee comprises of leading Pakistani industrialists having vast experience in product development. Through the inputs of the committee the Labs are able to produce products having high commercialization potential.

Members of LIAC:

Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar

Founder Rastgar Industries

 

Mr. Shoaib Farooqui

Managing Partner
Maqbool Enterprises Private Limited

Mr Asad Ikram

Senior Consultant  National Radio Telecom Corporation of Pakistan

Mr. Sohail P. Ahmad

Advisor Bolan Casting Limited

 

Mr. Zaafir Waheed 

Chief Executive Officer AEDesign (Pvt) Ltd

Mr Asad Ikram

Senior Consultant  National Radio Telecom Corporation of Pakistan

Introduction of Labs:

NCRA has 11 labs in 13 Universities of Pakistan, each lab is working on a specific domain as follows:

  1. Robot Maker Lab | NUST college of E&ME

The Robot Maker Lab is equipped with the state-of-the-art rapid prototyping, machining and fabrication facilities for robot parts. It is a shared facility between all NCRA Labs and acts as a centralized robot manufacturing facility to support NCRA Labs, startups, academia and industry.

2. Robot Design & Development Lab | NUST College of E&ME

Robot Design & Development Lab provides a fusion Centre where real-world problems are analyzed by a multidisciplinary team, and lead till commercialization. Secondary objectives include, but not limited to, human resource development and providing a platform where industry, startups, and academia can collaborate.

3. Human Centered Robotics Lab | UET Lahore & UCP Lahore

This is a joint Lab of UET & UCP Lahore. Human Centered Robotics Lab aims to indigenously design and develop integrated robotic systems, based on smart sensing and actuation, to seamlessly interact with humans, actively learn from them and eventually create an effective collaborative environment. The lab is working on the development of following application domains,

Collaborative Robots, Exoskeletons, Active Prostheses and Active Orthoses

4. Industrial Monitoring and Automation Lab | Information Technology University

The industrial monitoring and automation laboratory has been established to solve the commercial and public sector industrial problems. The scope is to develop real-time health monitoring of induction motors which are the workhorse of industrial units. Real-time monitoring and analysis of effective power consumption, identify the performance and recommend design improvements in induction motors, and finally developing capability to perform industrial energy audit.

5. MEMs Sensor Design and Testing Lab | Air University

The lab develops skilled manpower through scientific research to produce world class MEMS experts having expertise in design and testing to produce world class R&D in MEMS and initiate commercial activities in this area in Pakistan. Moreover, it will support the local needs of the academic institutions, strategic organizations especially the research groups working in the field of robotics and automation. Design, simulation and testing of MEMS based devices including MEMS physical sensors, microrobotic actuators, RF-MEMS and energy harvesters at the micro scale will be carried at the lab.

6. Agricultural Robotics Lab | LUMS

The lab aims to setup a state-of-the-art national precision agriculture facility, with a focus on agricultural robotics and automation, and a clear path from scientific problem solving to technology roll-out for each theme. The goal is to promote and demonstrate the use of automation driven technologies to assist Pakistani farmers in improving production process and increasing efficiency by efficient utilization of water, enhancing the crop monitoring and yield prediction capabilities and reducing the harmful impacts of agricultural inputs.

7. UAV Dependability  Lab | FAST NUCES

Automated UAV testing is an emerging and active area of research with a number of works recently published. The lab focuses on three application areas, SiL(Software-in-loop), HiL(Hardware-in-the-loop) and adaption of these technologies to civil domains. Most of the research produced at the proposed lab will be applicable to both military and civil UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System). The Lab is also working in close collaboration with Aviation Design Institute at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra. The lab will also establish research collaborations with leading international academic organizations.

8. Swarm Robotics Lab | UET Taxila

Swarm Robotics Lab at UET Taxila is working on to develop scalable and application-agnostic solutions supported by the multi-agent robotic system optimally. The lab aims to achieve this using state-of-the-art swarm intelligence algorithms. Swarm Robotics Lab consists of three core areas of expertise, i.e., Swarm Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision, and Decentralized Communication. The Swarm Robotics Lab has each one of these core areas as sub-labs

9. Haptics, Human-Robotics and Condition Monitoring (HHRCM) Lab | NED Karachi & MUET

This lab is the joint lab of NEDUET and MUET, Haptics & Human- Robotics Lab (HHR) at NED University and Condition Monitoring Systems (CMS) at Mehran University. HHR will specifically deal with the design and development of Haptic/Tele-robotic interfaces (for Disaster Management and Medical Applications) and STEM-based Education/Assistive Robots.

CMS (MUET) develops national level predictive maintenance prototype solutions that can monitor different parameters of the plant for possible maintenance before going into worst condition (i.e., shut down). Scope of the CMS is transport infrastructure i.e., Railway and Road. These works will culminate with high quality research, innovation, commercialization and consultation.

10. Control Automotive and Robotics Lab (CARL) | BUITEM & MUST

It is a joint Lab of BUITEMS & MUST, CARL aims to solve pressing problems of Pakistan using Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. BUITEMS AI & Robotics Research team has been working on Evolutionary Robotics, Artificially Intelligent Robotics, Deep Learning, Search & Rescue Robotics, Social Robotics, Textile based Robotic Sensors, Data Mining & Analytics.

While MUST is working to develop autonomy level 4 autonomous vehicle and autonomous industrial loader for the transportation of freight from one point to another

11. Advanced Robotics and Automation | UET Peshawar

Advanced Robotics & Automation Lab is working on two key research areas

  1. a) Prosthesis and orthosis
  2. b) Agriculture machinery & robotics

The lab will make significant impact on Pakistan’s GDP by developing indigenous solutions in the field of prosthetic and orthotic devices and automated/intelligent agricultural machinery& robotics.

 

Activities & Events:

NCRA Research Fund

NCRA research fund has been established to cater for conducting research activities in the field of Robotics and automation. This funding opportunity aims at fostering the transition from research and technology to integration and business. The successful outcome of this fund shall put in place a combination of market oriented technological research and development of integration solutions. This shall help new robotics applications to reach the market.

Call for Proposals was published in renowned Urdu and English Newspapers on 31st May 2020. 40 x Proposals were received from researchers across the country.

A three-stage evaluation process was conducted in which all proposals went through strict scrutiny. Based on the overall scoring 9 x proposals were shortlisted for award of funds.

The list of successful awardees and their affiliation is as follows:

Sr. No. Proposal Info PI Info and Affiliation
1 Sustainable Agricultural Production System in Urban Areas by using CNC Kitchen Gardening Robot Dr. Saqib Ali
University of Agriculture Faisalabad
2 Catalyzing Industry 4.0: Development of Framework and IIoT Test-bed for Providing Automation Roadmap to the Industries Dr. Zubair Khalid
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore
3 Development of a comprehensive universal gun barrel Cleaning Mechanism Dr. Imran Shafi
National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad
4 BCI based Exoskeleton to Assist Elderly and Disabled People Stand and Walk Dr. Noman Naseer
Air University, Islamabad
5  RoboDoc: A Social Robot to Protect Healthcare Professionals dealing in contagious diseases Dr. Hashim Raza Khan
NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi
6 Indigenous Design and Manufacturing of Full Flight Motion Platform Dr. Shahid Baqar
PAF-KIET. Karachi
7 Indigenous Approach for Development of Piezoelectric Devices Dr. Hamid Jabbar
National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad
8 Biocompatible Shape Memory Polymer based Soft Actuator for Biomedical Applications with Dual Operation in Aquatic-Terrestrial Environments Dr. Jahan Zeb Gul
AIR University, Islamabad
9 Warehouse Automation of a Textile Factory using Industry 4.0 Technologies Dr. Muhammad Gufran Khan
FAST NUCES, LahoreDr. Uzair Khaleeq Uz ZamanNational University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad

Robotics and Automation Startup Challenge

NCRA annually hosts the Robotics and Automation Startup Challenge with the purpose of encouraging young startups, professionals, and graduating students in the development of ground breaking ideas that can help the local industry in achieving standard of industrial revolution 4.0, solving societal problems, and creation of job opportunities.

Due to Covid Pandemic, 1st startup challenge was conducted online in 2020, winners from each theme were awarded PKR 300,000.  Call for second startup challenge has already floated interested applicants can submit the concept notes by 15th July 2021.

NCRA has identified two broad themes to ensure that input from the applicants comes in the specific fields which are aligned with the objectives of the centre.

The themes are as follows:

  • Indigenous Product Development to Provide Automation Solution to any Local Industry in line with Industry 3.0 – 4.0
  • Indigenous Product Development for Solving Societal/Industrial Problems using

Robotics & Automation

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Industry (ICRAI)

The 3rd IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Industry (ICRAI) was organized by the National Centre of Robotics & Automation (NCRA). This conference is one of the leading international forums in Pakistan for researchers in Robotics and Automation to present their work.

The International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Industry (ICRAI) aims to bring together leading engineers, scientists, academics, researchers, policymakers, field and application engineers, industries, companies, startups, and scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results related to robotics and automation in industry. It also provides a forum for participants to present their latest research goals, design, developments, manufacturing and applications in all areas of robotics and automation in industry.

The conference was a technical gathering of representatives from the eleven research labs of NCRA from different universities of Pakistan. Foreign Keynote speakers and NCRA Scientific and Industrial Advisory Board (SIAB) foreign and local members also participated in the conference.

Keynote Speakers:

  1. Prof Jun Ho Oh (South Korea)
  2. Professor Karsten Berns (Germany)
  • Professor Peter Corke (Australia)

4th ICRAI is planned to be held in October 2021. Call for submission of conference papers has floated to all the engineering Universities and relevant bodies across the country. The deadline for submission of papers is 15th June 2021.