One Man and his Bot

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Faculty of Environment and Technology


The TV show 'Robot Wars' has done a lot to make 'robots' exciting to the public. Unfortunately, their robots aren't robots at all, but are in fact remote-controlled vehicles. A true robot should be autonomous, and control itself.This project aims to explain the difference between robots and remote-controlled vehicles in a fun and interactive way. The activity will invite participants to try to herd a flock of robot 'sheep' into a pen by driving a remote-controlled 'sheepdog' around an arena. The sheep try to stick together, and when left to themselves will wander around gently, avoiding the arena walls and obstacles. However, when the sheepdog comes into range they will try to run away from it. The person controlling the sheepdog has a minute to try to get as many sheep into the 'pen' as possible, in a manner similar to the old TV favourite, 'One Man and his Dog'.Although the rules that control the sheep are simple, the behaviour of the flock is complicated and life-like, especially when the sheepdog chases them!An autonomous 'sheepdog' will then be let loose in the pen, to demonstrate the comparative ability of robots to manage this type of task.We intend that the audience will experience for themselves that autonomous robots can - at least in this simple example - compete successfully with humans. The audience will also be introduced to some of the ways in which researchers in the field of robotics are inspired by biology to create machines which have a little spark of life...'One Man and his Bot' will be delivered at the Imagineering Fair at the Bath & West Show, as well as the Discover Zone at Cheltenham Science Festival. It is anticipated that further dates and locations will be incorporated in the future.


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