Robotic Petting Zoo wows crowds at CarFest South



A Robotic Petting Zoo featuring Heriot-Watt's superstar robots - wowed crowds of all ages at CarFest South, last weekend.

Students and robots joined forces for the major outreach activity, forming part of the University's Year of Robotics.

As one of the flagship events in the BBC Children in Need calendar, CarFest combines amazing cars with music and family activities.

Thousands of people travelled to Basingstoke where visitors had the chance to learn about projects such as the Heriot-Watt Student Robotics Society's humanoid robot, built from 3D printed body parts. 

For younger visitors, the robot petting zoo allowed children to pick up, touch and interact with robots including MiRo, a companion dog-bot.

This activity aimed to normalise robotics and encourage questions about how they work.

Running a series of Virtual Reality experiences at CarFest proved to be a continuing reminder that the passion and interest in such technologies is thriving across all age groups.

Michael D Waite, from the School of Mathematical & Computer Science

The team even explained the technology behind BB-8, the famous Star Wars robot, using simple coding demonstrations.

Heriot-Watt's Year of Robotics, is a year-long programme of events which span schools, the public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers.

It is designed to celebrate and demonstrate our pioneering research, which is at the forefront of robotics, artificial intelligence and human-robot interaction.

Michael D Waite, GLA Development Assistant, School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences, said:

“CarFest has once again, been a huge success.

“By getting hands-on with the latest in VR technology, enabled by the CS Student Equipment Fund, I have managed to build up the knowledge required to excite others about its potential whilst also working on various experimental projects."

Eileen Young, GLA Research Assistant Intern, added:

“The Robotic Petting Zoo allowed a wonderful access point for people of all ages to see and touch some real life robots.

"They learned how robotics can genuinely make a positive impact on people and the environment through a blend of science, technology, engineering, and maths.”