While we all love a good robot and are patiently awaiting the day we can transfer our consciousness into a robot body, we can’t escape the fact that robotics is usually an extremely expensive and complicated field to get into.
But AfrikaBot isn’t just a competition; it is also used as a conduit to get people making. Michael Ettershank, manager of robot science at UJ’s Technolab hosts AfrikaBot every Saturday, where anyone can come and learn about robots. Many young students from disadvantaged areas make the trip down to UJ to get inspired, and some of them have expressed a desire to pursue engineering and take what they have learned back to their communities.
Ettershank explains the drive of AfrikaBot:
The thinking [of ArikaBot] is that most robots run into the thousands of dollars, and your average South African teenager can’t afford to participate [in a robotics competition]. The point of participating is learning [about] micro-controllers, programming and electronics.
Ettershank showed off one of the robots created by the participants, which incorporates a peanut butter container lid as wheels, and a body made of a Kiwi shoe polish tin and pieces of LEGO.
Now AfrikaBot is extending their reach even further with an event that is open to high school students, university goers and anyone else who wants to get their hands dirty.
On the day, participants will be tasked with programming one of 30 robots to complete a maze.
The event is both acting as a launch for the AfrikaBot competition which is set to take place next year, as well as a taste of what it’s like to work on a robot.
Here are the details:
- Date: October 3rd 2015.
- Time: 10:00 – 16:00.
- Venue: Zwartkops Raceway
At the same venue, UJ will also be hosting the Shell Eco-marathon Africa, so you’ll be getting double the event.