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City college students build Sara, the humanoid robot that multitasks
Six girls from a private college, with guidance from a few mentors and a robotics training institute, have brought to life a robot, that can talk, identify people, answer phone calls and provide information about their college to those seeking admission.
About eight months ago, six girl students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications (BCA) from Shri Shankarlal Sundarbhai Shasun Jain College for Women decided to hone their skills and knowledge in robotics. Realising that their future was going to be filled with automation and artificial intelligence (AI), they took on the mammoth task of building a life-sized humanoid robot, a challenge that is daunting to accomplish for many robotics engineers as well.
“We were keen to learn about the technology behind making a robot and wanted to understand the engineering aspects of it. We approached the college with the idea of creating a robot that could provide information about our college. Since we were all from computer applications stream, we had to learn the science behind electronics and robotics right from scratch. With the help of our college faculty, mentors and the tutoring from Do-It-Yourself Academy (DIYA) Labs (a city-based centre that trains students in robotics skills), we could build the robot in about eight months. We have named it Sara, which stands for Shasun’s Adaptive Robotics Assistant,” recalls 19-year-old R Madhumitha, one of the architects of the robot, speaking to DT Next.
Her other batchmates in the third year of BCA course, who worked to bring Sara to the world, were S Nivedeinee (19), A Khushi (19), S Vithika (19), R Hemapriya (19) and M Bhavana Kanooga (20). After finishing their course work and classes throughout the day, the girls headed to the lab every evening to work on the robot. They had also undergone a course on robotics during their summer vacation. “We wanted to showcase something unique. That kept us going through all the difficulties and the learnings,” admits Madhumitha, who wants to pursue a career in software developing in future.
Standing at six feet, slender Sara, the newest member of the college, weighs only 29.2 kg, including a seven-inch tablet that she holds for interface and runs on AI. She was built with a total funding of Rs 5-lakh, which was borne by the college authorities, informs Subhashini Reddy, the brand manager of the institution. Sara can not only identify people, greet them with a handshake, but also answers calls and provides information about the college.
“If a person introduces himself or herself to her once, Sara remembers and identifies when she spots him or her the next time. Soon, she’ll be at our college’s registration desk, offering assistance to parents and students, who are seeking an admission into our college. In the future, we plan to have her capture attendance details at college events,” adds V Srividhya, the institution’s Chief Innovation Officer.
Sara, however, is just the beginning of student ideas that the college wishes to give life to. “Our vision is to encourage students to work on their ideas. We want Sara to be a role model for other students. At a time when robotics and AI are playing a big part in many sectors, we want to show that these fields are not only for engineering students, but also for anyone with interest,” she adds.