Robots Invade Ryerson!

Admissions Communications team member, Matt, gives you the inside scoop on the Ryerson robot invasion!

Did you know that Ryerson students starting this fall will be the class of 2020? It’s amazing how far into the twenty-first century we’ve stumbled, isn’t it? To give some perspective, Back to the Future Part II was set a year ago, the dystopian future of Blade Runner is supposed to happen in 2019, and judgment day passed without fanfare… in 1997!

Which begs the question – where are the robots? Weren’t we promised tireless robot servants who would tidy our homes, cook or meals, and crack jokes at their own expense? Sure, they might rebel against us every once and a while, but isn’t it worth the risk to avoid vacuuming.

Unfortunately, for the time being, we might have to settle for a clunky Roomba. However, there are several exciting projects happening at Ryerson University that might pave the way for bigger and better things in the field of robotics!


Studying Autism with the NAO Robot

Photo credit: @aldebaranofficial, Sep 5, 2014, Instagram

Photo credit: @aldebaranofficial, Sep 5, 2014, Instagram

Over the past several years, Dr. Stéphanie Walsh Matthews and her team have been using robots to study language use in children with autism. Their robots of choice are Max and Rob, a playful plastic duo imported from Aldebaran Robotics in France. They can walk, talk, play games, and have occasionally been known to do yoga.

Although possessing a cute Fisher-Price appearance, Max and Rob are sophisticated pieces of technology. The research team has escorted them across Southern Ontario with the intent of collecting the first major data set of autistic children’s speech using human-robot interaction. If you’d like to learn more, Dr. Walsh Matthews recently presented her research at TEDxRyersonU!


Taking a Ride with hitchBOT

Photo credit: @hitchbot, Jan 29, 2016, Instagram

Photo credit: @hitchbot, Jan 29, 2016, Instagram

With its pool noodle arms and plastic bucket body, hitchBOT doesn’t look like much. However, during the summer of 2014, the little robot went on a big adventure across Canada. It was able to travel all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia – entirely by hitchhiking! A collaboration between Ryerson and McMaster universities, the wandering hitchBOT was designed to analyze trust in human-robot interactions.

Unfortunately, hitchBOT’s attempt to make a similar journey across the United States in 2015 ended in disaster. In recognition of his brave sacrifice for academia, the robot will be immortalized in the Canadian Science and Technology Museum.


Duking it out at FIRST Robotics

Photo credit: @first_official_, April 4, 2016, Instagram

Photo credit: @first_official_, April 4, 2016, Instagram

Sometimes, you just want to see robots duke it out. This is the mandate of the FIRST Robotics competition, whose Toronto regionals have been hosted at Ryerson’s own Mattamy Athletic Centre for the past two years. Teams from local high schools are tasked with building a remote controlled robot that can win at each year’s featured “robo-sport.”

A registered not-for-profit, FIRST Robotics aims to inspire young people to pursue studies in science and technology. Show your support for these high school wunderkinds (and possible future Ryerson engineering undergrads) by showing up to the Mattamy Athletic Centre and cheering them on!

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