The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) together with the NCCR-Robotics center in Switzerland have jointly begun work on the Thymio Robot project in South Africa. This project also sees the involvement of learners from Eden College, Durban.
The Thymio Robot project in South Africa, headed up by Prof Riaan Stopforth and Dr Shaniel Davrajh, a Mechatronics Engineer in the School Of Engineering at UKZN, aims to enlighten scholars on better understanding of robotics. The opportunity to collaborate with Eden College High School presented itself to Prof Stopforth when he recently visited Switzerland whilst on sabbatical leave.
The collaboration with UKZN began when, Prof Francesco Mondada, a Professor in Mechatronics Engineering from EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne)in Lausanne, Switzerland, developed an interest in education robotics, and therefore developed the Thymio Robot as an educational tool to teach learners. Upon receiving the robots from Switzerland, Eden College High School was identified by UKZN as a school for participation in such a project. The Thymio robot is programmed using a graphics interface and generates the code in text on the side of the screen to allow the learners to observe the commands correlating with the graphics. This allows the learner to learn programming techniques at the same time, and to modify or program advanced commands should they wish to.
Dr Shaniel Davrajh, also a Mechanical Engineer at UKZN, trained learners on how to use the robots and they will soon get a chance to show off their newly acquired skills with the Thymio Robot.