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Robofair to showcase the robots of today and tomorrow

News story

The first known reference to robots dates back over 3000 years to ancient Greek poet Homer’s epic poem Iliad. And yet, despite the copious appearances of mechanical beings, cyborgs and daleks found in popular culture since, robots play less of a role in 2011 than many would have predicted in decades and centuries gone by.

Mechatronic engineering student Zac Oliver says he was first drawn to robotics after watching a documentary outlining the potential of robotic helpers.

“It was about making robots to help the elderly,” he remembers.

“It was in Japan, and because they have a large elderly population, they were looking at creating humanoid robots to help them.”

So does Zac see a time when these humanoid robots become a possibility?

“Eventually,” he answers.

“Not quite yet.”

But while the luxury of mechanical helpers around the home is a ways off, Curtin’s annual Robofair will show how robots still play a major, if slightly less obvious, role in 21st century life.

The free event will feature fun and informative exhibitions and displays from a range of different organisations, including Scitech, Bossong Engineering and the Perth Adult Lego Society, while Fire and Emergency Services Authority workers will give a demonstration of how robotics help them save lives during rescues.

Robofair will also host the iNexus Robotics Competition, which will see some of the most promising robotics students in the nation showcase their robot-building skills by putting them through a series of tests. The winner will book a place in the international grand finale, which will be held in India in 2012.

It will be Zac’s second competition after his team made it to India last year, and he hopeful a reprogrammed version of last year’s bot will allow the group to take the next step and win the international event.

“It’s a great experience going over to India, it’s great fun,” he said.

“Winning an international robotics competition certainly looks great for a mechatronics student’s CV.”

Robofair kicks off at 10am Sunday, December 4 in Curtin’s new Engineering Pavilion (Building 215) on its Bentley Campus. Learn more

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