The department has engaged in world-leading research in Artificial Intelligence for more than 10 years. Building on this work, we have opened a new Cognitive Robotics Laboratory.
The laboratory encompasses research in human-robot interaction, autonomous vehicles and bio-inspired robotics. One of the first robots to take up residence in the lab was Artie a life-size Robothespian humanoid robot who is fully interactive, multilingual and user-friendly. Artie is a powerful and versatile research platform who comes with a wide range of tools making him accessible to novices and useful for cutting edge research in human-robot interaction. A web-based interface means that students can remotely access and control Artie. Next to arrive in the lab was Baxter, a humanoid robot for research and teaching. Baxter is safe around humans because he utilises Series Elastic Actuators that enable force sensing at every joint, so a collision between Baxter and a human or object will be detected and Baxter will stop. Baxter also has three cameras (two in the wrists and one in the head), position, velocity, and torque sensing on every joint, a 360º sonar array, 3-axis Accelerometers and Iinfra-red rangefinders in each wrist.
The most recent additions to the lab are the cheeky little Nao twins Robbie and Archie. Robbie and Archie are 58cm tall humanoid robots who consist of sensors, motors and software and get their wizadry from their programming and animation. Using all our robots, students studying our BSc Computing for Robotic Systems, will be able to design, develop, construct and program a robot from basic principles learnt on the course.
In addition to these commercially available robots, the Cognitive Robotics Group, part of the department’s Intelligent Systems Engineering Centre, designs, builds and tests its own robotic kit. Take a look at their web page to see the exciting research they are engaged in.
Membership of the student Robotics Society is open to all the department’s students. The society meets regularly and organises trips and mini projects. George McDonnell runs the society and says "the Society provides an opportunity for students, on software related courses, to gain added skills in programming hardware, with the Arduino microcontroller, and it allows students to apply their knowledge of programming in an informal environment. It has given me practice in organisation and teamwork, but most of all, teaching and sharing experiences with others."