Muhammad Osama Fawad, a final year student of the GIK Institute, has qualified for phase two of the Space Robotics Challenge, which is organized by NASA under the NASA Centennial Challenges program. Autonomous Rovers, which can be deployed on the Moon and Mars, is to be virtually simulated in Open Robotics Gazebo Simulator and Robot Operating System (ROS). Over the past few years, NASA has been trying to make Mars habitable, and in order to do so, it requires a lot of sample data from Mars. Such rovers can be used to collect necessary data both from Moon and Mars and help aid the scientific community to prepare for the challenges that threaten human life outside Earth. NASA is developing a variety of autonomous robots to build the infrastructure before humans even get there. The algorithms developed in this challenge have the potential to be deployed to actual robots that will be sent to Mars and Moon.
Expressing his views, Osama said: “I was fortunate enough to be among the few selected for the challenge and proud to be the only one from Pakistan. GIK has played a major role in shaping who I am today. I am grateful to the faculty members, especially the ones who taught me Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Vision. I really appreciate the valuable cooperation of the GIK Administration and how they went out of their way to facilitate me, which proves the Institute’s vision towards innovation. Being a member, and now Captain, of Team Technobolt (GIK Robotics Team) also helped a lot as it introduced me to the world of Robotics at an early stage. Participating in 6 national robotics competitions over the years made me able to take bigger challenges.
It is an 18-month program. The qualification round started in January 2020 and ends in August 2020, and the top 25 teams will advance to the next stage of the competition which will have the final in June 2021 in Space Center Houston. The teams that perform well might be invited to the Space Center Houston. NASA will be sharing valuable software packages that are not available publicly, and those valuable packages can be used for software development for other commercial and research purposes as well.
Osama further that: “with the help of multiple Online Nano-degrees (Computer Vision/ Deep Learning/ Robotics Software Engineering/ Robotics/ Deep Reinforcement Learning/ ROS/ Self-Driving Cars) and Online Courses that I am enrolled in, and with the guidance of esteemed faculty members I believe winning is within grasp.”
The Rector congratulated Osama on this major achievement of his and wished him the best for the future rounds of the completion. He also appreciated, as was done by Osama himself, the role played by his instructors in his achievement.