|By Quinell Ming
The Department of Computer Information Science (CIS) of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has boosted its technological development with the acquisition of a humanoid robot to improve the quality of the department’s programmes.
The NAO Version 6 humanoid robot, codenamed ‘Bob’ will foster a more practical teaching approach through its many functions which includes choreography software and programming.
The robot was created by SoftBank Robotics and is recognised worldwide as a tremendous programming tool and as robotic standard for education and research.
Some of its humanoid functions include detecting emotions, performing various body actions, speaking multiple languages and facial and vocal recognition.
Chair of the CIS department, Damion Mitchell, said that the android will help students to value advances in technology.
“Its use is to help students with programming and to help them appreciate what is happening in the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.
Even though the robot hasn’t been used as yet, CIS students are optimistic about it.
“I think the robot is important to CIS because it helps students get first-hand experience with working with AI (Artificial Intelligence). With all this modern technology and the constant changes in the area of IT, before you know it, all this technology just might take over the world. We have to be prepared for that, thanks to CIS and all its technology investments, we’re getting a good head start.” one student said.
‘Bob’ was acquired through a partnership between the university president Dr. Lincoln Edwards and NCU alumnus Dr. Whitford Reid. Reid donated the machine, valued at approximately US$9,000, along with a drone.
Since its procurement, ‘Bob’ has channeled the department’s focus in the area of artificial intelligence and robotics. Department Chair, Damian Mitchell mentioned that two additional humanoid robots and robotic arms, along with virtual reality kits are being purchased.
The technological equipment acquired by the department also strengthens the foundational development of a Science, Technology, and Engineering and Math (STEM) lab to be built in the near future.
Currently, ‘Bob’ is managed by the department’s chair and will be used mainly by the programming students. With proper care, the robot is expected to function for at least 5 years.