We want this National Centre to attract future experts and to contribute to efforts addressing the national shortage of capability in this area. We feel that outreach to schools and colleges is a vital part of this, to inspire young people.
We have therefore begun to showcase the EPSRC Centre at a range of events and to work with schools through the FIRST LEGO League programme.
The EPSRC Centre participates regularly in exhibitions and has developed a range of interactive demonstrators that showcase intelligent automation from LEGO through to industrial robots.
Our core demonstrators include:
Currently the smallest industrial robot provided by ABB, the IRB 120 has a maximum capacity of 3Kg. We have created a small portable enclosure for the robot and have developed an interactive interface to allow all age groups to control the robot throughout the given tasks. Currently we have ‘Artwork by Amy’ and ‘Puzzle Solving by Amy’ and are developing two further ‘Assembly by Amy’ tasks. Most of the activities demonstrate the power/importance of machine vision often coupled with custom end effectors to achieve a truly dynamic experience
The NAO robot from Aldebaran Robotics is an inspiring demonstrator of what can be achieved. This humanoid robot has an array of sensors distributed around its body including, cameras for vision, sonar sensors for distance measurement, tactile sensors, a gyroscope and microphones. NAO is capable of holding structured conversations, giving presentations, dancing to your favourite tracks and playing simple games, as well as many other activities. Within the EPSRC Centre NAO is used to make complex engineering both exciting and accessible to people of all ages.
LEGO Mindstorms Robots
As well as being proud sponsors and hosts of FIRST LEGO League, we use LEGO Mindstorms to demonstrate a range of core automation concepts. We have created Rubik cube solving machines (inspired by the work of David Gilday), drawing machines, interactive driving games and many more. These give a brief insight into machine vision, structures, software development and tactile sensing.