Luca Rand - Robotics
Topic Robotics
Date March 22, 2017
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Robotics with Luca Rand

Are you interested in robotics? Or just curious to know as to what makes robotics one of the more well-rounded and ever-growing career paths.

In this Q&A we have a PhD Robotics student Luca Rand, offering advice to all aspiring robot makers.

"Once one start developing the passion, the rest follows. And the studies themselves become an excuse for following your passion."

How do you start in the Robotics field? Can I join it with Python programming language or there is a specific language? —Youssef W

I wanted to develop artificial intelligences and bodies for them. Robotics was the discipline that had the most interesting things for me. Any language is definitely fine…c and c++ are always useful because they are pretty much usable on every microcontroller.

What courses do I have to take if I’d like to get into Robotics? —Hannah M

Robotics goes from mechanics to electronics to software, then it really depends on your favourite subject. I started with computer science but then i wanted to see real things moving. Because of that I transitioned towards mechatronics, it felt like a natural progression for me.

Is it worth studying robotics and mechatronics in college? —Mohammed AC

Studying mechatronics is definitely worth for learning algorithmic thinking and the basics of mechanics and electronics. However you can always start playing with Lego, Arduinos and Lego Mindstorms as a starting point into Robotics. They are beautiful tools that allows to combine all the aspects at once in a pretty easy and straightforward way.

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How do you plan to develop an exoskeleton?

I would love to develop modular exoskeletons that can be personalized to everyone’s needs. After all this is what we’re moving towards.

What are the most used simulation programs in mechatronics?

ROS and Gazebo are practically becoming the standard for this. They’re widely supported and there’s an enormous community behind it. Definitely worth starting with this.

I'm considering specializing in AI. Which subject would be more relevant for it, computer science or software engineering? And what languages should I learn? —Haitham M

It really depends on the courses offered. Computer science might be more generic, therefore better suited for the AI studies. Software Engineering might be pretty restrictive. But it really depends on the courses given in such programs.

Can you give me a path to be professional in Robotics? I don't know where to start. —Youssef W

To me it is a matter of starting playing with available tools (Microcontrollers, Arduinos, Legos). Once one start developing the passion, the rest follows. And the studies themselves become an excuse for following your passion. Myself, I started with Computer Science for the reasons mentioned above. But mechatronics (Mechanics, Electronics, Computer Science) is definitely aligned as well.

Is Turing somewhat related to Robotics and how was it related to Robotics? —CöllëNn CH

Turing is considered as one of the fathers of AI. If you consider a robot as the merging of an artificial body and artificial mind, the AI definitely plays an important role.

I wouldn’t say he’s a father of all things Robotic, however he definitely is one of the major figures in AI. Therefore as far as Robotics is concerned with AI, he is one of the major figures in robotics as well.

PS: The Imitation Game is a beautiful movie at this regard.

Do you have a company that supplies you with the parts of the robot? Is it difficult to look for appropriate parts?

Legos are good for first prototypes, then I move to 3D printed parts. Once you’re sure about your design, you can outsource it.

What does the future hold for Robotics? Is it as ambitious as experts in the field make it out to be? —Ong Z

I see more and more emerging technologies that are thinning the line between man and machines. It’s already happening to a large extent, just have a look at how quickly the technology around us evolved in such short amount of time e.g. smartphones, pacemakers etc.

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Topic Robotics
Date March 22, 2017
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