Artificial intelligence: IBA team’s robot hacks its way to the bronze in RoboCup Iran Open 2014

Published: April 26, 2014
Global fame: IBA students, Imran Hemani, Safeer Hussain and Nabeel Zahid Rajput, came back with the third prize at the RoboCop IranOpen 2014 competition held in Tehran. PHOTOS: COURTESY IBA

Global fame: IBA students, Imran Hemani, Safeer Hussain and Nabeel Zahid Rajput, came back with the third prize at the RoboCop IranOpen 2014 competition held in Tehran. PHOTOS: COURTESY IBA


The ‘Chotu’ – a robot built by a three-member team of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) – hacked its way to third position, sweeping aside Chinese and German rivals, in the RoboCup Iran Open 2014’s @Home League.

The competition, held in Tehran from April 9 to April 11, drew more than 2,000 students from 22 countries who contested in four major domains, each with a number of leagues and sub-leagues.

The Pakistani team, Karachi Chotu, comprised three students, Imran Hemani, Safeer Hussain and Nabeel Zahid Rajput, under the supervision of IBA Artificial Intelligence Lab head Dr Sajjad Haider. This was the first time that the team qualified for the competition’s @Home League, which aims to develop service and assistive robot technology with high relevance for future personal domestic applications.

Of all the five teams that qualified from among 11 registrants in the league, the two Iranian teams bagged the first and second positions, followed by the Pakistani team that outplayed its Chinese and German counterparts.

“Our greatest feeling was to see the Pakistani flag hoisted in the competition among flags of other countries that are much more advanced in robotics and technology in general,” Hemani told The Express Tribune. “The essence of our achievement is that Pakistan has a lot of potential to excel in the fields of robotics if the government and other institutions help students with finances and research in this field.”

Unlike many other countries where developing the robots as a hobby, sport or educational endeavour has been evolving since the mid 90s, the development in robot technology in Pakistan, backed by academic institutions, started only few years back.

“Even securing a third position was a surprise as we did not really go with the goal of winning,” Rajput admitted. “Our main aim was to learn as we already knew that the level of technology and development in robotics is much advanced in other countries as compared to Pakistan.”

The competition

Hussain explained that the competition in this specific league consisted of benchmark tests that the robots had to solve in a given scenario of a basic home environment. The focus lied in the research areas of human-robot interaction and cooperation, computer vision, navigation, object recognition and manipulation among others, he added.

Since last year in November, the Karachi Chotus have been working on a TurtleBot  — a low-cost, personal robot kit with open-source software – as their final year project for degree qualification at the IBA computer science faculty.

With a webcam-style add-on peripheral, or Kinect, installed on top of it to do the visuals, the robot uses robot operating System (ROS), which is one of the industry standard platforms for research in robotics and artificial intelligence.

Aiming at functionalities in a smart robot for home and office use, the Chotu can learn a previously unfamiliar map and then moves from one place to another as commanded. For instance, Hussain said, it can follow a person or intended route while detecting and recognising faces, objects and speech commands.

The IBA team believed that Pakistan will eventually be able to participate and win in the RoboCup, annual international robotics competition, if the students receive continued support for research and participation.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2014. 

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Salman
    Apr 26, 2014 - 2:38AM

    Proud to be an IBAian.


  • Ailiya Z.
    Apr 26, 2014 - 4:22AM

    Massive respect. Thumbs up @ET. International Competitions like these should be covered on TV Channels too, specially when a team is representing your country. Sad.


  • Sandhya
    Apr 26, 2014 - 8:41AM

    congrats you guys! :D


  • Ahmad
    Apr 26, 2014 - 9:04AM

    Keep up the good work !!!


  • Abdullah
    Apr 26, 2014 - 9:18AM

    Good Job guys! Proud of you.


  • Saifoo Khan
    Apr 26, 2014 - 10:15AM

    Go IBAians! Make FCS proud.Recommend

  • A2Z
    Apr 26, 2014 - 10:29AM

    @Alliya Z…they have covered it here, this is enough. Their TV channels are only for useless talk shows for ratings, breaking news for the mantra of “we gave the news before anybody else” and coverage of foreign fashion shows which do not have even minute similarity with our culture.


  • Queen
    Apr 26, 2014 - 10:47AM

    Wow great work guys! Keep it up!


  • Hamza
    Apr 26, 2014 - 11:45AM

    Proud to be an IBAian. Make Pakistan proud !


  • True Karachiwala
    Apr 26, 2014 - 11:57AM

    Hey Karachi Chotu just great to see you achieving this. All praises to Karachi chotu


  • Waseem
    Apr 26, 2014 - 12:11PM

    Bravo! Congratulations!!


  • mehboobBhai
    Apr 26, 2014 - 4:34PM

    good work bhai loog!


  • Abdullah
    Apr 26, 2014 - 5:01PM

    Great work. But we must say Good work Pakistanis too. I am proud that Pakistanis done this.


  • Dia
    Apr 26, 2014 - 5:04PM

    Pakistani Fashion shows rarely make the news channels… I know people who work under Pemra. Secondly if u include fashion shows then only one channel in Pakistan covers them and that’s HUM and also social media otherwise there’s actually a limit on them.


  • Abdul Rauf
    Apr 26, 2014 - 5:19PM

    Keep it up guys


  • shabbzz
    Apr 26, 2014 - 6:02PM

    @Ailiya Z.:
    Our Electronic media is ‘good for nothing’ and only for their own ‘$$$$’ gains by ratings.These type of news don’t increase the ratings.
    They do not show ‘positive’ news !!!!
    Ratings only increase by ‘negative news’ and ‘mud slinging’ to politicians/govt./armed forces/judiciary etc etc.


  • Abdul Mateen Khan
    Apr 26, 2014 - 8:14PM

    Great going Team Pakistan! Proud to be an IBAian


  • Naresh
    Apr 26, 2014 - 11:53PM

    This Robot is Manufactured by Turtle Bot!
    Here are their Details : The Open Source Robotics Foundation licenses the use of the TurtleBot trademark for manufacturing and distributing TurtleBot branded products. Controlling the use of the TurtleBot trademark ensures the highest quality user experience for TurtleBot users and community.
    If fellow Members of this Forum are interested in becoming a TurtleBot Manufacturer or Distributor please contact
    You can purchase TurtleBot from :
    It costs US$ 1,599/-


  • Anonymous
    Apr 27, 2014 - 12:01PM


  • Wasif Mustafa
    Apr 27, 2014 - 4:51PM

    An IBA Alumni(76) is Proud of you IBAians. Keep it up. You have made Pakistani’s proud too


  • jiyala
    Apr 27, 2014 - 6:00PM

    Calm down lads. They cheated by using a robot that’s already available in the market. (proof in Naresh’s comment)


  • Pakistani
    Apr 27, 2014 - 7:54PM

    How stupid can you be?
    If you can read the article closely, it’s mentioned clearly they bought the kit from the market.
    Functionality was aimed towards Software, not hardware.


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