Heriot-Watt’s Year of Robotics Aims to Develop Interest in Robotics and AI Among Children

Edinburgh’s primary pupils have been invited to design a mascot to help commemorate the launch of Year of Robotics in 2017 at Heriot-Watt University.

Credit: Heriot-Watt University

Starting from January, experts in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences will be exhibiting their contributions to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) through a chain of events which will cover the public, academia, schools, industry collaborators, policy makers, and funders.

The reason behind the mascot competition is to promote an interest in robotics and AI in children from a young age. The winning design will be made into the official mascot for the Year of Robotics using a 3D printer.

Ten-year-old Joseph Mendonca from Currie Primary and seven-year-old Chloe Porter from Dean Park Primary were joined by the University’s resident robot Pepper to launch the competition. They celebrated by shaking hands, fist bumping, hugging, dancing, and taking selfies.

It was so exciting to meet Pepper and we had fun taking selfies so that we can share pictures of him with our friends and ask them to enter the competition. I wish I could have taken Pepper home with me!

Chloe Porter, 7, Dean Park Primary

Pepper and other humanoid robots have learned to act in ways that we would deem socially appropriate, a significant step forward from where we were five to 10 years ago. Today’s generation of young people are going to grow-up and work alongside autonomous, intelligent machines in such a way that social robots will become the norm. Demonstrating how this will come about is one of the key aims of the Year of Robotics.

Professor Oliver Lemon, one of the academics behind the Year of Robotics

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