- Business - 14:00 Start- ups lose faith in London after just 12 months
- Earth Sciences - 12:01 Chimps use clay to detox and as a mineral supplement
- Business - 11:01 Should Labour really be agonising over the Left Right divide?
- Medicine - 08:01 Novartis partners with Phase 4 Partners and institutional investors to help create Mereo BioPharma Group Ltd
- Business - 06:02 Secretary of State for Business announces investment boost for UK’s largest dynamic test facility
- Microtechnics - Jul 29 Making the new silicon
- Physics - Jul 29 Rogue wave theory to save ships »
- Social Sciences - Jul 28 Bruce Kidd: sprinter Dutee Chand’s historic win for right to compete "affirms women exactly as they are"
- Medicine - Jul 28 How stem cell research and regenerative medicine saved this man's life
- Pedagogy - Jul 28 'Redshirting' kids yields no advantage in higher education
- Physics - Jul 28 Physicists close in on world's most sensitive resonators
- Agronomy - Jul 28 More secondary schools serve healthier lunches
- Medicine - Jul 28 McGill gets $91.5 Mln in CIHR funding
- Physics - Jul 28 Researchers Observe Shortest Wavelength Plasmons Ever in Single Walled Nanotubes
- Life Sciences - Jul 28 Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year
- Mechanical Engineering - Jul 28 EPSRC rail consortium shows how to cut costs and reduce delays
EPFL robots will soon appear in school classrooms
EPFL scientists have developed an educational robot designed to introduce children to technology in schools. Baptized Thymio II, it was officially presented to teachers in the Canton of Vaud last friday.
Creating an original pedagogical tool to get students interested in technology and robotics: this is the challenge that was undertaken by a group of the researchers led by Fancesco Mondada, in EPFL’s Robotics Systems Laboratory. In collaboration with the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), they developed Thymio II, a little programmable white robot, jam-packed with sensors and LEDs, that can exhibit a wide range of behaviours. “We worked really hard on the hardware,” Mondada explains. “Each sensor is associated with a coloured LED, which allows the kids to visualize the activation of the sensors during a specific manoeuver.” The Thymio II robots, which made their debut in May during EPFL’s robotics festival, has been presented to teachers on November 25, as part of a course organized by the cantonal teacher’s college (HEP).
Explorer, coward, investigator, friend
The 11 cm x 11 cm robot is equipped with proximity sensors (it can detect close objects), ground-directed sensors (it can detect the edge of a table around which it’s circulating, or a line to follow), accelerometers (It can measure acceleration, detect impacts and indicate gravity), a microphone and a temperature sensor (an electronic thermometer). It also has a memory card for recording sound. After they’ve turned their Thymio II on using buttons on the surface, users get the robot to adopt one of the basic modes, such as friend (follows an object in front of it), explorer (avoids obstacles), coward (detects impacts and empty space) or investigator (follows a line on the ground).
By hooking it up to a computer via a USB cable, users can invent and program other behaviours. “You could imagine the robot becoming blue when you put it in the fridge, for example,” suggests Mondada. The programming is done using a software called Aseba, which was developed by EPFL. “Aseba is a simple language, but it contains the principle concepts of programming,” Mondada continues. The software code is “open source,” available for modification or downloading over the Internet, and rights free.
From Lego to programming, by way of physics
Thymio II is not just a teaching tool for robotics professors. Thanks to its many sensors, it can also be used to teach physics, when subjects such as gravity, the properties of light and temperature are on the agenda. And thanks to its engaging character, the robot can also be used by children who are too young to understand programming. “It’s possible to stack Lego bricks on top of the Thymio II. Kids can decorate it and play with it to start with, then discover new kinds of behaviour over the Internet, and start to program it when they’ve gotten a bit older.”
Will Thymio II be a hit in the schools? Philippe Krähenbuhl , a science and robotics teacher at the Collège du Vevey, is enthusiastic. “Thymio II is inexpensive (about 99 francs), accessible, and very complete. It leaves room for creativity,” he says. “I appreciate the fact that you can use it in different ways, whether for building with legos, for teaching physics or for teaching programming skills.” For his part, Mondada says he welcomes suggestions from teachers, in order to improve the small white robot even further.
Last job offers
- Physics/Materials Science - 28.7
Faculty Position in Plasma Physics
- Civil Engineering - 28.7
Faculty Positions in Transportation Engineering and Transportation Systems
- Computer Science/Telecom - 24.7
4 Doctoral Student/Post-Doc Positions (Salary Scale 13 TV-L)
- Life Sciences - 22.7
Wissenschaftliche Assistenten und Assistentinnen in angewandter Forschung
- Pedagogy/Education Science - 21.7
Professeur-e ordinaire ou associé-e dans le domaine Intervention en situation scolaire
- Pedagogy/Education Science - 20.7
Projektleiter/in als Wissensch. Mitarbeiter/in (80−100 %) Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie...
- Environmental Sciences - 28.7
Lecturer / Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor in Environmental Management
- Environmental Sciences - 27.7
Assistant Professor: Global Environmental Change (1, 0 FTE)
- Arts and Design - 15.7
Universitätsprofessorin / Universitätsprofessor für das Fach Musiktheater-Regie (BV gem. § 99 UG )
- Social Sciences - 13.7
Universitätsprofessorin / Universitätsprofessor für das Fach Instrumental- und Gesangspädagogik (BV gem....
- - 28.7
- - 28.7
- Microtechnics - 28.7
Associate Professor in Oceanic Engineering Science
- Mechanical Engineering - 28.7
Assistant Professor in Additive Manufacturing Operations Research
- Medicine/Pharmacology - 29.7
Family Medicine - MEDEX - Assistant or Associate or Full Professor WOT (AA12561)
- Pedagogy/Education Science - 29.7
AGRI Research Chair in Gambling Policy