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Robotics Workshop!

University of Bath Robotics Challenge 2014  

On the 13th of September 2014, two lecturers – Dr. Pejman Iravani and Dr. Jon du Bois – from the University of Bath’s Mechanical Engineering Department dropped by KTJ to conduct a Robotics Workshop. They brought their trusty LEGO NXT Robotics sets and laptops along with them in black cases that looked like they belonged in a “Terminator” movie than in a professor’s possession. However, the moment the mini, tri-wheeled robot gurgled to life and the professors started their introductory lecture, all apocalyptic references were cast aside amongst the awe and enthusiasm in the room. Participants were introduced to the various robots hiding in plain sight – the Airbus, the driverless car – supporting the idea that there is more than meets the eye to most machines.

The students were also introduced to mainstream robots like ASIMO and production line robots. Participants were also given tutorials on programming the LEGO robots to do their bidding: Follow a line. After an hour or so of clacking of computer keys and vigorous field/track testing, the eight teams finally pit their robots against each other in a time trial. The sight of the robots single-mindedly (and sometimes misguidedly) following the line of the track to achieve their objective based on the data input of participants was fascinating – and amusing when the robot strayed off the track or lost its way. Our world must be a terrifyingly confusing one, compared to the virtual realm of binary code. At the conclusion of the workshop, all participants got to snap photographs with the visiting doctorate holders. Some students even got to have discussions on trending Mechanical Engineering issues with the professors, ranging from light sensor-equipped solar cells to the energy conversion limit of wind turbines. The workshop ended on a high, and undoubtedly will return for another edition next year.                                                  

By Tan Xi Shern ( Lower Six)