York University Robot Lab Launched

Wednesday was an exciting day for the robotics guys at the university – it was the official launch of the £250K robot lab built on the new “Heslington East” campus. We kicked off with a press event that attracted Look North, ITV Calendar, York press and more. It’s quite an experience having reporters, photographers all over the place! That was chased up with a VIP tour with representatives from the uni and from industry. Our demos included flying drones “dancing” and tracking a moving target, epucks running the omega algorithm, a walling 6-legged robot, simulations from CoCoRo and from Symbrion, and controlling a robot using the Xbox Kinect. To end the day, Jon gave a fantastic talk to a fully packed 250-people lecture hall on immunity in robotics.

We had some drama in the lab in the days leading up to the event 0 Monday night we had a fire! This prompted more media attention, with some interesting stories circulating around the York press concerning activities in our “Robot Wars Arena”. Overstated perhaps. We do some cool stuff, but have yet to venture into robots (deliberately) attacking one another! The actual cause was a faulty battery that was left to charge overnight, and failed to stop charging when it was full; the result was it overheated and caught fire. York Uni were brilliant, the entire lab was given a deep clean to remove soot and then repainted in less than 36 hours.

I shall leave you with this video, which shows three drones flying and “dancing” to a nice waltz, created by my CoCoRo colleague, James Hilder.

Here are some of the videos and stories – though I don’t know how long these links will stay live for: York Press (video story), Calendar (video, 22 min in)

UPDATE 03/02/12: Luis Fuente, another of Jon’s students, has found a video from BBC look north of the robot lab launch. Its a large file (35M), so click here to download it any play it in a player of your choice (I like VLC).