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From ATMs to assistive robotics: KAL lends expertise to judge student showcase

As a returning member of the System Design Project judging panel, KAL recently celebrated a new year of up-and-coming talent at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.

assistive robotics edinburgh university 2023

Building bots: an introduction to the System Design Project

Each year, undergraduate students at the School of Informatics plan and implement complete systems that solve everyday problems via assistive robotics. Throughout the 12-week project, teams develop software, user interfaces, mock-ups and hardware to execute their vision. The end goal is to demonstrate a system that can perform useful autonomous tasks with commercial potential. The main event is a showcase where groups present their work to peers, mentors and industry guests for review.

In the words of Jane Hillston (Head of School of Informatics):

The final day of the System Design Project is always one of the highlights of the year for me…It is a reminder that Informatics has the ability to change the world for the better.

KAL’s role as an industry judge

Since 2015, KAL has served on the System Design Project judging panel alongside delegates from Amazon, Dyson, GitHub and other tech companies. Initially, it was the appeal of “football-playing robots” that inspired KAL Senior Software Engineer Ulrich Meyer to get involved in 2019. However, on deeper reflection, he finds himself consistently impressed by the skill and creativity of Informatics students – particularly since the pandemic.

The highlights of the 2023 System Design Project showcase

There was a tangible sense of excitement at this year’s System Design showcase. For the first time in several years, groups were able to work without being impacted by any Covid-19 related restrictions.

Some groups kept their balance with ergonomics - developing systems that could monitor a person’s weight distribution with the goal of improving posture. Others bet on games with robots that could handle card decks, move chess pieces, retrieve ping pong balls and more. From medical pill dispensers and audio-descriptive mobility headsets to motorized alarm clocks and shoe-tying machines, the showcase featured many inventive solutions for everyday life.

Celebrating another year of student successes

KAL has shown nine solid years of support for the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics System Design Project. We’d like to extend a special congratulations to Team 17 for earning the Best Overall Project award (sponsored by KAL). The winning students include Marian Bitsika, Alex Sorokin, Toby Whittome, Luka Kerr, Isha Pawar, Orlagh Keane and Armin Ghofrani.

Commenting on his experience at the 2023 showcase, Ulrich Meyer shared the following words:

Many of the ideas the students presented this year went so far beyond the scope of the assignment that the prototypes only scratched the surface – which is a compliment! It was great to see groups integrating their systems with mobile apps, creating their own websites, and developing original branding. I’m looking forward to all that next year holds.