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Glyndŵr University to launch revolutionary robotics degree


Glyndŵr University plans to launch a revolutionary new degree in robotics.

The Wrexham University’s world-leading Computing department will unveil the postgraduate offering next year.

Professor Vic Grout and his team hope the Masters’ qualification will incorporate the innovative Baxter Research Robot, which would allow them to focus on specific application development goals, including human-robot interactions, collaborative robotics, planning, manipulation, control, and perception.

Active Robots’ managing director Antony Lovedale visited the Plas Coch campus to give students and staff a demonstration of its research applications, notably computer/machine vision, corporate research and development, education and outreach, and mechatronics and grasping.

Rich Picking, a Reader in Human-Computer Interaction at Glyndŵr, said: “We are really looking forward to launching our new Masters’ degree, which will give students practical hands-on experience of developing applications for industry-standard robots.

“We'll be concentrating very much on the software engineering aspects of robotics, such as artificial intelligence, computation, and programming, but we will also be exploring the future impact that this field will have on society.”

Professor of Computing Futures, Vic Grout, says robots will play a “huge part” in our future technologies and questioned how humans will eventually deal with a sea change in the power and responsibility the machines hold.

“Robots won’t just make our lives and our jobs easier, they will probably eventually care for us and protect us as well,” he said.

“Robots have massive potential for good but there’s a darker side. What about the jobs they replace? How much are we prepared to trust them? What about our privacy and freedom?”

Prof Grout added: “Here at Computing at Glyndŵr, our robotics teaching and research looks at the whole picture. 

“We work on both the technical and social aspects of emerging technologies.  We consider the ethical, political, economic, environmental and legal impact of robotics and automation as well as just making them work. 

“This all-round knowledge and experience will put our students and researchers at the cutting edge of future technologies, and we hope to be launching it from February.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Excell, said Baxter is “an interesting product” for the University to consider, and senior lecturer Dr Nigel Houlden was in agreement.

He says the emergence of the robot is a revolutionary step in technology and safety.

“Industry has relied upon robotics for many years, but one of the biggest prohibitive factors was safety,” he said.

“Cages would have to be set up to enclose the robot so people didn't get injured; Baxter is a leap forward in that its sensors detect people and objects and can avoid them.”

He added: “We would like to thank Active Robots for coming and demonstrating this new wave of robot to our computing and engineering staff and students. They demonstrated the quickness at which a researcher could establish Baxter and gain viable and confirmable results.

“Computer scientists in the 21st Century will need skills to utilise robots like Baxter to their full extent. An MSc in Robotics from Glyndŵr University would enable students to gain hands-on experience with this cutting edge technology, preparing them for working in a variety of areas from factory floor to health to home assistive technology.”

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