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Engineering

University of Southampton robots take on the best in the world

Published: 10 July 2018

The University of Southampton is fast becoming a centre of excellence for robotics. Teams of second year Engineering undergraduates and the University’s student society Robosoc have been impressing the judges in the international Eurobot contest. The competition started 20 years ago in France and now attracts entries from universities from across Europe and around the world.

All student engineers at Southampton who chose the robotics option for their second-year project entered the 2018 UK heat and took the first three places. Robosoc, led by Mateusz Ochal came first, Bot the Builder, led by Mechanical Engineering student James Arter, was runner-up and Builder Bois took the third prize. Robosoc and Bot then went forward to the World Final and Bot took ninth place out of 35 teams from 15 countries.

This year’s Eurobot Final challenged the teams to build robots that could pick up and move items around a mat; the theme was Robot Cities – Build a better world.

“It was a fun but challenging project. You had 100 seconds to score points through activities such as getting your robot to turn on a switch, burst a balloon and pick up blocks,” says James Arter. “Members of the team took on different tasks over the weeks from coding to electronics according to their experience and strengths. Time management was crucial and we soon learned to allow extra time for unexpected problems, few things run smoothly all the time.”

Fellow team member Tim Feeney adds: “Engineering is much more than just theory. Through taking part in Eurobot we learned the practical side of the subject, such as using laser cutters and 3D printers and how to work together towards your goal. The project was stressful at times but it was ultimately very rewarding to see our robot carrying out the correct tasks in the competition.”

The rest of the teams were:

  • Bot the Builder: Jonny O'Keefe and Raimundo Garcia-Figureas Mateos
  • Robosoc: Alexander Sawers, Benedict Allen, Charlie Mullings-Wong, Hanna Daddster, Jonathan Cho, Patryk Kozak, Andrew Woods, Billy Bradley, Daniel Hausner, Tia Burden

“Robotics is going to be one of the most important technologies in the future and it’s important that students get the chance to get practical hands-on experience at the start of their careers,” says Mateusz Ochal, who is studying for an MEng in Computer Science. “Our society brings together students from across the University to build robots and take part in competitions. We welcome male and female students from engineering and other disciplines to challenge the boundaries of robotics.”

“The Eurobot competition is a great way for students to get real, hands-on experience that they can apply to their studies and to their future careers,” said Shamma Musthapha, systems engineering manager for Boeing Defence UK, Ltd. “That’s why we are proud to support universities like Southampton which integrate these types of STEM-related activities into their curriculum, giving all of their students unique access to a wide range of career-boosting skills.”

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