Year of Robotics: Pepper presents Blue Peter!



An inter-disciplinary team, involving students and academics from across the University, will be taking the CBBC channel by storm tonight (Thursday 10th August) with an appearance on the long-running magazine programme, Blue Peter.

The show, which is watched by 6-12-year-olds, will be co-hosted by Pepper, one of the University's artificially intelligent social robots and features an interview with psychologist Dr Thusha Rajendran from the School of Social Sciences as he guides children's presenter Barney through current robotics research.

From mathematicians, engineers and psychologists to linguists, economists and  fashion designers, robotics research is a truly unifying subject.

Dr Thusha Rajendran

Dr Thusha Rajendran said: “There is significant evidence to suggest that young people, especially girls, become disengaged with STEM subjects as early as seven or eight years old. It is therefore vital that universities like Heriot-Watt proactively engage and inspire children about their future career choices as well as helping them to understand what role robotics will play in their daily lives in the near future.

“Robotics is an inter-disciplinary area which involves students and academics from across our five global campuses. From mathematicians, engineers and psychologists to linguists, economists and  fashion designers, robotics research is a truly unifying subject that develops collaborations not only within our own institution but with other universities such as the University of Edinburgh.”

Last month, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh announced its intention to open the UK's first national ROBOTARIUM as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

The National ROBOTARIUM will build on the existing Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a £35 million joint venture between the two universities.

The new funding will substantially expand the current inter-disciplinary team of more than 100 researchers based in Edinburgh, driving forward the development of Robotics and Autonomous Systems technologies to benefit knowledge, companies and employment.

The National ROBOTARIUM will be a world-class hub, building on existing research expertise, skills training and industry partnerships. It will help propel both Edinburgh and Scotland to the forefront of the rapidly-growing global robotics stage.

The Year of Robotics is a year-long programme of events which span schools, the public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers. Designed to celebrate and demonstrate our pioneering research, which is at the forefront of robotics, artificial intelligence and human-robot interaction, the next event will be CarFest South, which will take place in Hampshire on the 25th – 27th August.