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Racing robots - feature image, used as a supportive image and isn't important to understand article

Teaching the robots to recite the Lovelace group chant!

Robots doing Tai Chi?!

NYSF2018 Session A students in the Lovelace (computing) interest group got to see exactly this when they visited the Human Centred Technology Research Centre at the University of Canberra (UC).

Director of the Research Centre, Professor Roland Goecke, started the workshop with some insights into the possibilities of Human-Centred Technology, with examples in security biometrics, health and aged care, sports performance analysis, education and robotics. The students were particularly fascinated by a project conducted at the UC, where face, voice, gestures, body posture, eye and head movement, could be used to help doctors diagnose depression with an accuracy of about 95%!

Racing robots - content image

UC computer science PhD students, James and David, talked to the students about their backgrounds and journey from high school to undertaking PhDs. James told the students how he “... fell in love with programming things that might be useful, not just for myself, but for someone else.” David’s PhD project was particularly interesting; using neural networks to train robots to sort materials and remove buttons and zippers, in the hope of increasing clothing recycling. This prompted the students to challenge the presenters about the possibility of robot self-awareness and related data security.

Then came an exciting introduction to Nao robots, complete with a pre-programmed demonstration of the robots performing Tai Chi and the macarena!

The group was then challenged to program the robots to stand up at a start line, walk around the table and sit down at a pre-placed finish line. Much harder than it looked!

But Lovelace was up to the challenge, not only making it a race, but even teaching the robots to recite the Lovelace group chant while they walked.

Check out the video to see the great programming done by the students.

For more information about the Human Centred Technology Research Centre at UC, visit:

Brooke Krajancich, Communications Intern NYSF 2018 Session A and NYSF Alumna 2013