Robot croquet: Discovery Day to encourage kids to explore science and engineering

Interactive displays showcasing robot croquet and underwater exploration will encourage children to get hands-on with technology as part of National Science and Engineering Week’s Discovery Day on Saturday 17 March at Satrosphere Science Centre in Aberdeen. 

Dr John McCall from Robert Gordon University’s Institute for Innovation, Design and Sustainability Research (IDEAS) will demonstrate the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a croquet-playing robot called Thor.

Made by a team of research students, Thor the Lego robot can follow commands programmed wirelessly from a Bluetooth device, avoiding obstacles and tapping a small ball through croquet hoops. Using sensors and a camera, the programmer must relay instructions to Thor and map out a model for him to follow so he can detect where objects are and where to aim.

Dr McCall explains:

“Thor is a novel way to get kids and young people interested in digital technologies such as sensors and robotics. By providing a platform that is interesting and easy to follow such as a toy or game, we can illustrate some of the difficulties involved in more complex AI problems and how important it is in our everyday lives.”

The University’s Centre for Understanding Sustainable Practice (CUSP) will also showcase ROV (remotely operated vehicle) technology through a series of hands-on experiments and activities.

Dr Alan Owen, Director of CUSP, comments:

“As 70% of the Earth’s surface is underwater, exploration in this area is an exciting part of engineering with many applications in industry. Young people can see what it’s like to become an underwater engineer and even get the chance to fly an ROV.”

Discovery Day will take place on Saturday 17 March from 10am-4pm at Satrosphere Science Centre, The Tramsheds, 170 Constitution Street, Aberdeen. Entry is £1.

15 March 2012

About National Science & Engineering Week 2012
National Science & Engineering Week (NSEW) from 9-18 March is a ten-day national programme of the sciences, engineering and technology events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages.

NSEW in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, supported by BP, the Scottish Government and the University of Aberdeen and co-ordinated by the British Science Association Aberdeen Branch, will bring a vast programme of shows, talks, workshops and hands-on activities throughout the region, most of which are free, and all of which will inspire you to think, question and discuss.

National Science & Engineering Week is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and works in partnership with EngineeringUK.

Issued by:
Sarah GrieveCommunications Officer (Faculty of Design & Technology)

Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206