For the love of Robots

In the last year, swissnex India has brought a lot of cheer to robot enthusiasts in India. We’ve organized interactive sessions on topics related to Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in various cities. We’ve also brought in the expertise of top-notch Swiss institutions and professors in the field of robotics to India to talk about the latest developments in the field.

However, we discovered that the thirst for knowledge among robot makers and hobbyists in India is never ending. In our quest to quench this thirst, we planned a workshop titled ‘Robo Revolution’ with Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL), ETH Zurich. The idea was to bring in experts from ETH Zurich (ranked as one among the top ten best universities in the world by QS Ranking) to give hands-on experience to Indian robotics enthusiasts.

We looked out for local partners who were equally keen on imparting the latest and up-to-date information on robotics to Indian makers and hobbyists, and found Workbench Projects. Workbench is a makerspace in the heart of Bangalore city, that is “looking to seed the next decade of technological innovation.”

APP_8720The initiative took off with a call for participation that received a great response from all over the country. 40 participants from across India were selected to attend the workshop which was facilitated by Raghav Khanna and Anurag Sai Vempati, doctoral students at ASL, ETH Zurich. And then ensued four days of learning, and brainstorming that culminated in the participants creating their own robot.

At swissnex India, we consider ‘Robo Revolution’ as one of our most exciting and fun initiatives. Here’s what Mithil Raut, a participant of the workshop, had to say about it:

As a hobbyist, maker and robotics enthusiast I was fortunate enough to qualify for the “Robo Revolution” workshop organised by swissnex India, Consulate General of Switzerland and Workbench Projects on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

It all started when my friend and colleague Flavian received an email from Workbench Projects about the workshop. I work with Flavian as a Research Assistant at the Robotics and Automation Lab of St. Francis Institute of Technology, Borivli, Mumbai. Both of us have been following the works of the ETH labs and it has stood as an inspiration for us to pursue various challenging projects in the past.

I saw the workshop as a platform to learn new concepts of AI and how I could implement them in robots. I was also looking forward to connecting and collaborating with the people at workbench projects and the mentors flying in from ASL Lab ETH. I am always eager to meet and collaborate with makers around the world.

Light Painting

Light Painting with Thymio

During the course of four days, I got an insight into the probabilistic based approach for localization in robot, an approach which I got in touch with quite recently. Along with that, I was introduced to ROS (Robot Operating System), a system based on publish-subscribe model of communication. I was able to work hands-on with Thymio robot platform and was quite intrigued by the digital painting application using line following. More importantly the challenge to work with limited resources and find tweaks to make things work was the most valuable of all. In addition to this I was able to unleash my creativity into making the Selfie robot.

By and large, we used to take the reactive approach for designing any robotics system in which the sensor data was used as the primary parameter of response.  However, with the knowledge of probabilistic approach, we can now consider to impart this approach in appropriate situations.

To sum it up, the workshop not only provided a starting point in exploring various approaches of AI but also a sneak peek into the possible opportunities of study and work in Switzerland. I would like to thank Navya, Maitree and Balz at swissnex India and Workbench Projects for this opportunity.

IMG_4521By profession Mithil is a 2014 Computer Science graduate but most of his time at college was spent in working on robots and automated systems. An ambitious young mind and a maker, he takes an innovative approach towards problem solving.

A hobbyist and a Do-It-Yourself enthusiast, Mithil also has experience in flying and fabricating multirotors. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, he’s always eager to meet you over a coffee. With his technical prowess and set of soft skills, one can say that he’s a force to reckon with.