Cambodia’s beleaguered fire department may have a future high-tech solution to its problems after a team of young scientists from Norton University competing in the 4th Malaysian International Robot Competitions (MIRoC) last week placed third in the Fire Fighting Robot category.
The annual event, held this year from April 11 to 13 at Universiti Malaysia Perlis, involved robotics teams from 19 universities around the world.
Robots built by students at Norton University’s College of Science are displayed at the 4th Malaysian International Robot Competitions in Perlis, Malaysia. (Lay Romnea)

The Fire Fighting Robot was the main event among various competitions. The robots were designed to move around an imitation house, rescuing as many “victims” (ping-pong balls) and extinguishing as many “fires” (candles) as possible within three minutes.
The Norton team’s robot navigated a fiery path to the semifinal before their hopes of winning were finally extinguished. But despite the success, it may be some years before robots replace Cambodia’s human firefighters.
“The two robots we took to compete in Malaysia were very simple, small robots weighing only 1.5 kg and measuring only 250 millimeters in height and 130 millimeters across,” said Lay Romnea, coordinator of research at Norton’s college of science and leader of the prize-winning team.
Each robot was equipped with a suction motor to collect the ping-pong balls in its path and a small helicopter-like fan on top to extinguish the candles placed along the side of the corridors, he said.
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