What it feels like to ... BUILD A RO­BOT


RO­BOTS are be­com­ing more prom­i­nent in ev­ery­day life. In the short term they won’t take over the world, but they can make it a bet­ter place.

Ro­bot­ics and elec­tron­ics can be used to help other peo­ple, whether it’s a ro­bot that cleans up the en­vi­ron­ment, as­sis­tive ro­bots which help the less mo­bile or ones that pro­vide com­pan­ion­ship to the lonely. It’s such a fast-mov­ing field and I’m al­ways look­ing at ways to cre­ate ro­bots and en­gage young minds in the process.

I’ve al­ways been tech­ni­cal and loved com­put­ing sci­ence at school. He­riot-Watt Uni­ver­sity was of­fer­ing a de­gree in ro­bot­ics which caught my eye. When­ever there was an op­por­tu­nity

to cre­ate, I was al­ways in­volved in the process. I worked to­wards a PhD at Ed­in­burgh Uni­ver­sity where my ideas were nur­tured and I was en­cour­aged to en­rol in a schol­ar­ship.

The ro­bots I cre­ated were able to walk with more flex­i­bil­ity, un­like most ro­bots which are de­signed to walk as rigidly as pos­si­ble. This was to en­sure my ro­bot walked more like a per­son with the abil­ity to adapt to slight im­per­fec­tions in ter­rain without fall­ing over. I wanted to in­spire my young nieces and neph­ews with my love for ro­bot­ics and teach them how to code. I liked the idea of be­ing able to give them a lit­tle ro­bot of their own that they could in­ter­act with.

How­ever, I wanted my ro­bot to be unique, so I started to con­sider ways of cre­at­ing a more man­u­fac­turable ro­bot that chil­dren would like.

Marty is a pro­gram­mable ro­bot I’ve been work­ing on for four years and I’m con­tin­u­ously look­ing at ways to de­velop him. He can walk, dance, play foot­ball and avoid ob­sta­cles, which makes him the per­fect toy for chil­dren, ed­u­ca­tors and cre­ators. He has a real ex­pres­sion and per­son­al­ity, yet he still looks like a ro­bot. The process took a lot of time and per­se­ver­ance but it was worth it watch­ing my idea come to life.

Robotical is the com­pany I founded to com­mer­cialise Marty. I work in schools and ed­u­ca­tional com­pa­nies to in­spire more young peo­ple to cre­ate and get in­volved in ro­bot­ics. There are lots

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