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Posted On: 3 October 2019 11:40 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:05 pm

Robotics technologies in Qatar

Arvin Garcia
Arvin Garcia
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The foundation of Qatar's economy lies on its petroleum and natural gas reserves that account for more than 70% of its total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings. Globally, Qatar is the second-largest exporter of gas and has the world's third-largest natural gas reserve to date.

As the country sets its objectives in full-throttle towards the National Vision 2030, it meticulously works on diversifying its economy away from natural gas, and the robotics industry is one that is being eyed to help further boost the economy in the future.

Qatar, a traditional country, has a robotics sector that is steadily coming to life. Could it be that it is a robotics power in the making? Scroll down as we look into the robotics technologies in Qatar and how it is coping with the rest of the world.

Robotics landscape in Qatar

As early as 2005, while the progressive robotics developers of the world are busily innovating their latest technological advancements and breakthroughs, Qatar is one of the countries that has modestly started the use of robots in various fields and sectors of society. For the first time in the Arab region, a robot dubbed as the 'Kamel' was introduced and made known to the public.

Robotics Technology
Courtesy Image: Shutter Stock

1. Robots as camel riders

Camel racing has been a long-kept tradition in the Middle East but, in recent years, human rights activists condemned the sport for using young boys as regular jockeys. As a result, Qatar responded to the calls for banning the use of boy jockeys and this led the way to the creation of the robot named 'Kamel' who replaced the boy jockeys in camel racing.

At first glance, the robot jockey looks real - an eagerly-motivated rider prods a camel around the track with the reins in one hand and a whip in the other. But in reality, it's just a robot. From the keen directions of its creator, the Swiss Alexandre Colot and Qatari owners, this robot can ride a racing camel for 2.7 km and reach speeds of 40.23 km per hour. The 27.22 kg robot is equipped with a global positioning system satellite beacon and shock absorbers for the rough ride. To prevent camels from rejecting the robots, handlers spray their jerseys with traditional perfume used by the trainers.

Camel Racing
Courtesy Image: Middle East Eye

2. Medical Robots in hospitals

Robotics has a wide range of use and can be very effective especially in the service sectors of society. Qatar had its fair share of success in this aspect when​ they started introducing more advanced technology involving robots. In 2016, two state-of-the-art 'robots” were introduced in the country. The Robotic Surgery machine at Al Wakrah Hospital and Robotic Pharmacy at the Hamad General Hospital:

Robotic Surgery

In the last 10 years, Qatar has consistently developed and is becoming one of the world's best when it comes to medical technology. Three years ago, a dedicated robotic surgery team used state-of-the-art technology at Al Wakrah Hospital to transform the way doctors operate. The surgeons use the latest robotic surgery machine to perform precise operations and incisions, with the benefit of a fast recovery and minimal scarring for patients. The new medical breakthrough allows doctors to do their jobs correctly with fewer mistakes. The robotic surgery machine has proved to be a big breakthrough and a valuable asset for surgery in Qatar.

Robotic Surgery
Courtesy Image: The Peninsula

Robotic Pharmacy

The automated MACH 4 Omnicell system, which includes two robots called the Medimat and the Speedbot can read up to 1,800 prescriptions and can dispense thousands of prescriptions per hour significantly improving the efficiency of the pharmacy and reduce errors in reading prescriptions. The robots have a total stock capacity of 14,000 packs of medications, equivalent to around two days’ supply of medicine. Currently, the equipment is fully integrated into the Clinical Information System, meaning a better patient experience and less likelihood of human error in reading the scripts.

Robotic Pharmacy
Courtesy Image: Hamad Medical Corporation

3. First Humanoid Robot in Qatar

In 2018, Al Khalij Commercial Bank (Al Khaliji) introduced two, first of their kind in Qatar, human-like robots called Jassim and Noor which were capable of doing some of the bank's customer service operations jobs in Qatar. They ware stationed at selected branches, where they regularly guide customers through different bank processes and answer their questions.

The humanoid robots were created in 2007 and have undergone massive innovations for many years before being perfected into what they are now. These four-foot-tall bots with wide-eyes and built-in touch screens use artificial intelligence (AI) and a number of other technologies to replicate some human behaviour and functionality.

Humanoid Robot
Courtesy Image: Qatar Tribune

4. Robotic Police at IAAF Doha 2019

If you've been to the IAAF Doha 2019 at the Khalifa International Stadium and watched the athletics events, you may have seen this small roving machine going around the premises of the area, especially at the World Athletics Village. This, according to the Ministry of Interior, is the latest member of the police security group that is handling the peace and order of the competition. It's referred to as the Robotic Police, roving non-stop to check on any untoward incidents in the area. Built like an actual police car with sirens and accessories, the robot can cover long distances to reach any commotions or disturbances. With its advanced GPRS system, it moves around quickly and with ease. This robotic machine is one example of how Qatar is slowly embracing this technology by using it in everyday activities and tasks.

IAAF Police Robot

Taking robotics to new heights

1. Qatar Robotics Club

Through the years the robotic landscape of Qatar is getting more and more competitive as institutions and groups patiently develop young minds in creating new technologies through the use of robots. Take the Qatar Robotics Club, for instance. It was created to promote and encourage robotics and related activities in the country and aims to provide STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics - based Education for students.

Qatar Robotics Club
Courtesy Image: Shutter Stock

These are some of the courses they offer:

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The course covers the technological advancements that enabled AI to become a reality, then moves on to exploring what AI is in-depth, teaching students what differentiates this concept from the conventional programming that we are very familiar with today.

Coding Club: In this course, students learn the basics of block coding, introduced to the concepts, of loops, logic, variables and radio communications. In addition, students will learn how to apply these concepts to make codes to create games, functions and unlimited projects!

3D Modeling and Printing: During this course, students will be introduced to 3D printing and 3D modeling concepts. They will integrate different engineering concepts to bring their ideas to life and have the chance to work as design engineers.

3G Robotics: This course enables students to design, program and control fully functional models. Students will use software to plan, test and modify sequences of instructions for a variety of life-like robotic behaviours.

3G Advanced Robotics: This advanced course introduces the Space Mission Challenge that consists of a number of missions simulating real-life engineering problems. Students will learn more about systems, subsystems, and advanced programming algorithms.

2. Qatar Robotics Institute for Development (QRID)

QRID was founded in 2013 by Mouhyemen Khan, a graduate of Texas A&M University who is very passionate about spreading information about robotics education in the country and is constantly helps in molding the technological minds of the youth in Qatar.

QRID promotes robotics by organizing various workshops ranging from a school-to-university level so that students, teachers, and parents can benefit from the workshops. The aim of the organisation is to serve the greater vision of Qatar but specifically in the field of robotics. Through QRID's mentor-based courses and programs, QRID plans to create a network of highly enthusiastic roboticists in the region who will bring about a positive change to the engineering world.

Child and Robot
Courtesy Image: Shutter Stock

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Qatar Tribune, Doha News, The Peninsula

There's no stopping Qatar; the future of the world relies on these robotic technologies that have been constantly evolving with time. In the current situation where everything is automated and controlled by these technologies, there's no other way but to and adapt. Did you find this article interesting? Tell us what you think and write it below in our comment section. Also, please like and share this article - it keeps us going!