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Virtual Robotics School Project

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Virtual Robotics is an innovative partnership between Rawmarsh Community School, Sheffield Robotics and lead artist Paul Evans.

Over the course of two intensive days, pupils from Year 9 & 10 will research, design and develop a series of artworks based on the work of researchers working in the field of robotics. Virtual Robotics has been designed to give these young people an introduction to the opportunities offered at the University of Sheffield, an unique insight into the lives of a number of leading robotics researchers, and a understanding of how to develop a career in robotics.

Read about the project HERE, or find out about DAY1, DAY2, and some of the resulting work (LINK).

 

Sheffield holds first Global Workshop for Robotics in Mining

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Sheffield Robotics, in association with STFC Boulby Underground Lab, held the first Global Workshop for Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Mining on Wednesday 2nd March.

The event, held at the Millenium Gallery in Sheffield, saw over 55 attendees from the mining, robotics and autonomous systems sector coming together for a collaborative workshop on how to solve some of the major challenges within mining.

After a review of mining around the world and an introduction to the future of Mining from the Camborne School of Mines, a series of talks and roundtable workshops were held throughout the day.

One of the workshops focused on the question: ‘What are the most important problems facing the mining sector over the next 50 years that requires new research to solve them?’

In another session, attendees, including representatives from Sandvik Mining, Joy Global Ltd and Cleveland Potash as well as 10 universities, ranked and prioritised key themes for the industry. The most critical themes were Safety; Accessing Small Ore Deposits; Energy Efficiency; Accessing Remote Ore Deposits; and Skills Shortages, in order of priority.

Professor Tony Dodd, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, said: “The aim of the day was to formulate a robotics and autonomous systems research strategy involving all key stakeholders. We prioritised key areas crucial to optimising impact in this area and supporting the mining industry to reach its full potential economically, productively and increasing safety and sustainability in the sector.

“It was fantastic to see so many engaged attendees from the robotics and mining sectors and I look forward to developing networks and partnerships to develop research projects in this area.”

The results and feedback from the workshop will progress the groundwork established by recent initiatives both within Europe and globally, such as SPARC, to shape the implementation of key strategic plans and a roadmap for the industry.

Sheffield Robotics to Host International Field Robotics Challenge

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As part of the UK’s inaugural Robotics Week from 25th June to 1st July 2016, Sheffield Robotics will be hosting an international field robotics challenge for young researchers and developers working in robotics and agricultural technology.

Field robotics is an area of research focusing on the development of robots for use in unstructured environments such as outdoor or potentially dangerous settings. The field robotics challenge intends to bring together young researchers from different robotics disciplines, and have them develop practical solutions to real-world problems in a competitive environment.

The challenge will be held on the 26th and 27th June at High Bradfield in the Peak District National Park in the two days preceding the TAROS (Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems) Conference, also being held in Sheffield.

The event is designed to bring together young researchers and developers, including final year masters students, PhD students, early-career researchers, and those with relevant experience in areas including robotics, autonomous systems, control systems, computer vision, signal processing and remote sensing.

Successful applicants will be arranged into small teams for the 2 days and will compete against each other to complete a series of robotics challenges.

The competition will reflect an agricultural scenario, played out on real-world, challenging terrain. The teams will develop software to control, as well as collect and process data from, air and ground robots provided by the organisers. Tasks will include high and low-level surveying by unmanned aerial systems and ground-based sampling by wheeled rovers.

Participants will be encouraged to present their challenge solutions during a special session of the TAROS conference, with prizes awarded to the best teams.

James Law, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and Sheffield Robotics, who is organising the event, said: “Field robotics is a rapidly expanding area of research, and a key strength of the UK. As the technology progresses, we are seeing transformational applications appear in areas from mining to agriculture, through space exploration to maintaining our civil infrastructure.”

“This challenge will enable the technology leaders of tomorrow to work together to create innovative solutions to real-world problems. We are really looking forward to seeing the teams in action over the two days and the solutions they develop.”

The UK’s first ever Robotics Week, organised by the UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS), will be a national series of events and activities in schools, colleges and universities to showcase UK robotics capabilities and inspire the next generation. It is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), The Royal Academy of Engineering, IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The number of places is limited and the organisers will be shortlisting candidates based on their applications. Full details (including how to register your interest, contacts, and deadlines) can be found HERE.

Automatic programming makes Swarm Robots safer and more reliable

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Researchers from Sheffield Robotics have applied a novel method of automatically programming and controlling a swarm of up to 600 robots to complete a specified set of tasks simultaneously.

This reduces human error and therefore many of the bugs that can occur in programming, making it more user-friendly and reliable than previous techniques. This could be particularly advantageous in areas where safety of using robotics is a concern, for example, in driverless cars.

The team of researchers from the University of Sheffield applied an automated programming method previously used in manufacturing to experiments using up to 600 of their 900-strong robot swarm, one of the largest in the world, in research published in the March issue of Swarm Intelligence journal.  Swarm robotics studies how large groups of robots can interact with each other in simple ways to solve relatively complex tasks cooperatively.  Previous research has used ‘trial and error’ methods to automatically program groups of robots, which can result in unpredictable, and undesirable, behaviour. Moreover, the resulting source code is time-consuming to maintain, which makes it difficult to use in the real-world. Read More

Three Minute Thesis – Human-Robot Interaction

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Emily Collins, one of our PhD researchers at Sheffield Robotics, recently won The University of Sheffield Three Minute Thesis competition.  The Three Minute Thesis is a public engagement competition that originated in the University of Queensland in 2008, and has now spread across the world. Doctoral researchers have three minutes to talk about their research to a non-specialist audience. Emily will proceed to national competitions later this summer.  Learn a little about research that goes on in Sheffield, and watch the video…

Swarming Robots at the Science Museum

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This week, Sheffield Robotics and Bristol Robotics Laboratory jointly demonstrated their work on swarming robots at the Science Museum in London. On show were up to 300 Kilobot robots that self-synchronised their clocks, organised into groups and trails, and fought simulated cancer cells. The teams, led by Roderich Gross (Sheffield Robotics) and Sabine Hauert (Bristol Robotics Lab), also offered hands-on activities with the swarming robots.

 

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Sheffield Robotics at Hunters Bar School

Sheffield Robotics at Hunters Bar Junior School

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Sheffield Robotics visited Hunters Bar Junior School in December 2014 to talk to Year 4 pupils about robots and robotics research. Members of the Centre for Automation and Robotics Research (CARR, Sheffield Hallam University), and the Department of Psychology (The University of Sheffield) talked to the pupils about robots, what they can do, and the areas of research going on in Sheffield. After a brief introduction, pupils had the chance to meet real robots. CARR demonstrated a robot that follows the bar code on a piece of paper and explained the complex processes behind making the robot. Another robot demonstrated the automatic process of handling an object. The group from The University of Sheffield brought a robot called Zeno, which can show facial expressions and which got pupils very interested; Zeno is a friendly, social robot which can engage with children and even talk to them.

Sheffield Robotics is currently discussing ways to engage with more schools in Sheffield, and will be increasing its outreach activities in the near future.

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