Engineers for autonomous vehicles ranging from planes, trains and automobiles ( also trucks, tractors,ships and spaceships) are using the latest advancements in sensors technology and artificial intelligence science to develop commercial products. In fact not only are we starting to connect most everyday devices through the internet of things but we are also trying to make them smart using A.I.
This development is not just confined to existing devices, autonomous research is ongoing for the field of robotics. Industrial robots are giving way to personal or domestic robots for cleaning and cooking and other day-to-day drudgery. There are several state of the art prototype A.I. robots being tested and the next step is to give the ability to move around on their own.
All of this is putting pressure on the education system to develop the engineers and scientist of tomorrow. Are schools and colleges really preparing students for a career developing these systems? Lego is turning out to be a great way to learn early robot engineering.
The First Lego League ( FFL) is a global science and technology challenge for students to encourage interest in real-world issues and develop key skills crucial for future careers. The students, aged 9 to 16 years, work together in teams to explore a given topic and design, build and programme an autonomous LEGO robot to solve a series of missions. Each team of as many as 10 students works with a supporting adult coach.
First Lego League is sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation and releases a new challenge each year for the teams. This year’s tournament theme, Animal Allies, required an understanding of animal-human interaction to build, test and programme an autonomous robot. The challenge involved a robot game and a research project, and students were required to demonstrate the FLL core values throughout their work.
The winner of each regional robotic Lego tournament goes through to the U.K. and Ireland National Finals with a chance of competing at the world festival in the United States.
Danny Milligan, managing director, Northrop Grumman Park Air Systems said:
Northrop Grumman is committed to supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning programmes. We are particularly enthusiastic about this competition because students not only learn STEM but also how to apply STEM concepts, critical thinking and team-building skills to solve problems. The autonomous robot designs were outstanding, and we were very pleased to have been able to support this competition.
Northrop Grumman volunteers served as judges for the competition, which included 10 teams from 10 participating schools in the Market Deeping area: Deepings School, Bourne Academy, Ken Stimpson Academy, Spalding Grammar, Stamford Endowed School, Litcham School, Southview Primary, Corby Technical School, Kettering Science Academy and Dore Primary School in Sheffield.
The winners of the four main categories were:
- Dore Primary for Robot Challenge,
- Deeping Architectos for Robot Design,
- Stamford Endowed School for Presentation
- and Southview Primary School for Core Values.
Dore Primary, was the overall regional winner and will represent the region at the U.K. and Ireland National Finals in Bristol, Feb. 26.
FIRST is an international, nonprofit organisation that develops and supports programmes that promote STEM studies.
About Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to expanding and enhancing the pipeline of diverse, talented STEM students globally. They provide funding for sustainable STEM programmes that span from pre-school to high school and through to university levels, with a major emphasis on middle school students and teachers. In 2016, Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation continued outreach efforts by contributing more than £23 million to support diverse STEM-related activities and groups such as: in the U.S., the Air Force Association CyberPatriot cyber security competition and the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy (in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association); in the U.K., the CyberCenturion cyber defence competition and the IMechE’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Challenge; Cyber Arabia; and the REC Foundation VEX Robotics competition which includes Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S..