Robots are fascinating

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Robots are fascinating! They can look like anything and pretty much do anything you program them to do. Robots are created to do jobs that us humans find too dangerous or boring and some are designed to go underwater, rocky terrain or fly. They can be found in auto, medical, manufacturing and space industries. In fact, there are over a million of these types of robots working for us today!

So what is a robot? There is actually no standard definition. However, they do have essential characteristics that they need to have in order to be a robot. Those characteristics are working together to perform a task.

  • Sensing: your robot will have to be able to sense its surroundings and it can do that using different types of sensors: light sensors (eyes), touch and pressure sensors (hands), chemical sensors (nose), hearing and sonar sensors (ears), and taste sensors (tongue) will give your robot awareness of its environment.
  • Movement: a robot needs to be able to move around its environment. Whether rolling on wheels, walking on legs or propelling by thrusters. However, for it to be a robot either the entire robot moves or just parts of it.
Sojourner RoverMars rover that landed in the Ares Vallis channel in the Chryse Planitia region of the Oxia Palus quadrangle on July 4, 1997.
Canadarm – series of robotic arms that were used on the Space Shuttle orbiters to deploy, manoeuvre, and capture payloads.
  • Energy: a robot needs to be able to power itself and the way it gets its energy will depend on the environment your robot is in and what it needs to do. A robot can be solar powered, electrically powered, battery powered.
  • Intelligence: A robot needs to be programmed for a person to control it or for it to know what it is to do. A programmer is the person who gives the robot its ‘smarts.’

You should watch the two following videos from our Science Learning Hub friends as they will help you to start thinking about your InsectBot design.

Learning about Robots

The first things to think about when designing a robot

We have asked Charlie a few questions that might help you start designing your InsectBot. He is passionate about robotics and about to start a four year Degree in Engineering (Mechatronics) at Massey University. He has also been involved in VEX Robotics and several tournaments.

Kia ora Charlie,

Where does your passion for robotics come from?

“​​I have always been fascinated with making things. I have had LEGO to play with pretty much since birth, but I really got into robotics when I was 12. When choosing a high school to attend I went to the St Peters College open night and was blown away. They had an interactive robotics display run by Mr Stephan van Haren, who later became my mentor. I spent the whole night playing with the robots and I knew that is what I wanted to do.”

What is the craziest robot you have ever built?

“When building robots I like to challenge myself. If I know I can do it, then there’s no point because there is no challenge involved. The first time I really challenged myself to do something crazy was Billy the Piano Bot. I decided to build a robot to play the Pirates of the Caribbean theme on piano despite not playing the piano myself. It was a true challenge and it took 3 months, but that was the build that taught me that through robotics, anything is possible.”

Watch Billy the Piano Bot in action here

Which website or video would you recommend for rangatahi to learn about building a robot?

“I don’t know any particular websites or videos to teach robotics and I think the best way to learn is just through trying, and failing. Mark Rober is an engineer who has made some very cool projects and explains the process of making them. It doesn’t show you what to do, just the mindset of how to do it. This would be good inspiration about what can be achieved with robotics.”

Video: Mike Rober’s Youtube Channel

Go to: > InsectBot Home > Learn About Robotics