Students build playful interaction with industrial robot


During the spring, three Spanish Erasmus students from the University of Skövde have been working on a new theme environment at ASSAR, a robot cell that will be placed at the Balthazar Science Center starting this summer. In this environment, children (and playful adults) can interact with an industrial robot in various fun ways.

The experience involves a virtual screen with four different games: one with basic mathematical operations, one where the robot performs a series of shapes, another with directional buttons to move the robot freely, and finally, a game where each child competes with the robot using a so-called buzzwire. Ove Lindberg, responsible for the collaboration on behalf of Balthazar, explains that the robot cell is a preview of the update of Balthazar's theme environment (r)evolution.

"Here, visitors of all ages will be able to interact with the robot Sven. For many, it will be their first contact with a robot. There are different activities: competing against, counting with, and instructing the robot. In addition to practicing coordination and mathematics at the robot cell, visitors also gain an understanding of the precision and speed with which a robot repeats its tasks."

Playful interaction

The three students, Antonio Alejandro Hernández Hernández, Erich Estremera Gutiérrez, Miguel Ángel García García, study automation and robotics at IES Santa María de Guía in Spain. The students provide more information about the assignment and their collaboration with Balthazar:

"We have developed games for children where they can interact with an industrial robot in various fun ways using a touchscreen. Actually, the demonstrator is aimed at children from 3 years and up, without an age limit. But anyone, regardless of age, can play with the games," says Miguel.

"It has been a very enriching experience, both professionally and personally. In addition to working as a team with our supervisors and defining clear ideas that evolved throughout the project," says Antonio.

Ove Lindberg praises the students' efforts:

"Antonio, Erich, and Miguel have worked very effectively, and I am impressed by their progress and how quickly they have acquired knowledge. They have also understood how a science center thinks when developing experimental stations, both in terms of content and operational reliability in a stand-alone station. Everyone has participated in the creative process, and we at Balthazar are very satisfied with the final result. I look forward to continued collaboration with the University as we work on our next robot, named Glenn."

Amazing environments and mosquitoes

Miguel, Antonio, and Erich have worked at ASSAR between March and May - what was it like working there and being in Sweden?

"It has been an amazing experience to build this environment; ASSAR's facilities are spectacular. The best part has been the pleasant weather and the wonderful landscapes. The worst has undoubtedly been the mosquitoes," says Miguel.

"I love the Swedes' respect for punctuality," says Antonio. "The worst has been the cold, but a nice coffee in a cozy atmosphere helped a lot with that."