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Primary pupils across Edinburgh are being invited to design a mascot to help mark the launch of Heriot-Watt's Year of Robotics in 2017.

From January, experts across Heriot-Watt University will be showcasing their contributions to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) through a calendar of events which will span schools, the public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers.

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, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences

The mascot competition has been created to encourage an interest in robotics and artificial intelligence in children from a young age. The winning design will be used as the official mascot for the Year of Robotics and will be created by a 3D printer.

Seven-year-old Chloe Porter from Dean Park Primary and 10-year-old Joseph Mendonca from Currie Primary were joined by the University's resident robot Pepper to kick start the competition. They celebrated by dancing, fist bumping, hugging, shaking hands, and taking selfies.

Chloe said: “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!”

Professor Oliver Lemon, one of the academics behind the Year of Robotics, said: ''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.”