Design an animal-inspired robot competition

Issue date: 03 November 2014


Bristol Bright Night copyright Jon Craig

The Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is working with Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Bristol Zoo Gardens to inspire young people to have a go at designing robots inspired by animals.

The Robots vs Animals competition launches today during Tomorrow's Engineers Week (3-9 November), and is funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Young people aged between 11 and 18 are invited to answer the challenge, 'What amazing animal ability would you use to design a useful robot?' The winning entries will be exhibited as part of the Festival of Nature 2015, in the centre of Bristol.

Entry details can be found on the Robots vs Animals web pages here.

As well as the national competition, local schools have the chance to participate in Robots vs Animals bioengineering sessions at Bristol Zoo. The sessions are designed for Years 8 and 9, and include the chance to interact with live animals and cutting-edge robots. More information on the Zoo sessions is available here.

Project leader Laura Fogg-Rogers said, “Robots vs Animals is an exciting collaborative project designed to inspire and enthuse young people about the possibilities of engineering as a career. Working with Bristol Zoo Gardens, we are developing workshops which demonstrate how engineering can solve real-world problems by taking inspiration from other realms, such as animals in nature.

“We are really keen to see the designs and creations young people can up with. Biomimicry is such an interesting area of engineering - just think of the possibilities for a robot with the flight of a bird, the sensing power of shrews' whiskers, or the gentle strength of a monkey's hand! We hope the young people who take part are really inspired by the competition to continue and develop their skills as engineers.”

The aim of the project overall is to demonstrate engineering as a creative, exciting and innovative field, and encourage a wider range of young people, both boys and girls, to consider it as a career possibility. The competition is a chance for young people to get inspired by nature in order to solve real-world problems.

Competition entrants will need to consider how their robot could be useful by solving real-world problems. It might be a robot that helps us to become more sustainable or supports our health and wellbeing. The robot also needs to take its inspiration from an animal, with careful consideration of the materials that it will be built with and the engineering design process used to make it work.

The winning entry will receive a Rover 5 Raspberry Pi Robot,with other great robotics prizes for runners up, all sourced from Dawn Robotics, a start-up business based in the Technology Business Incubator at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

The closing date is 17:00 on 18 May 2015.

Image copyright Jon Craig.

Back to top