Ng Beng Kiat (right) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore talking with David Otten during the 2005 All Japan Micromouse competition.
Most robot developers tend to specialize in a very narrow area of expertise. They may excel at mechanical design, dynamics, sensing, software optimization, or autonomous operation, but tend to be weak in other areas. But occasionally someone comes along that excels in several critical disciplines at the same time, and their robot designs are always a force to be reckoned with.
A good example is Ng Beng Kiat with Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He was originally inspired to get involved with micromouse development during a trip to Japan for the 1997 competition. The Korean robots dominated the competition at that time, and he wanted to try his hand at the exciting sport. By November 2001 he had not only built a competitive robot, he surprised even himself by winning first place against a field that included 21 other robots from Japan, Korea, and the U.S. Since then, he and other members of his team from Singapore have almost monopolized the top positions, year after year.
Around the same time, he got involved with RoboCup, pulling together a team in the small-size league category in mid-1998. They went on to medal in both regional and World RoboCup competitions, including winning the championship at the 5th World Cup 2001 in Seattle, Wa.
And, it turns out, that he can also design, and race, world-class robotracer robots. Last week, at the 30th All Japan Micromouse competition, his robotracer ran away with first place, clocking a surprising fast 31.020 seconds.