Robotics: where to start, where to study and what are the prospects.
Robotics is one of the most promising areas in the field of Internet technologies, and there is no need to explain the future of IT nowadays. In addition, robotics may seem more entertaining than anything else: to design a robot means to almost create a new being, albeit an electronic one, which, of course, attracts. However, in this industry too, everything can be difficult, especially at the beginning. Together with experts, we will try to understand why robotics is needed and how to approach it.
Robotics is one of the most promising areas in the field of Internet technologies, and there is no need to explain the future of IT nowadays. Robotics is a fascinating thing: to design a robot means to almost create a new being, albeit an electronic one.
Since the 60s of the last century, automated and self-managed devices that do some work for a person, began to be used for research and production, and then in the field of services and with each passing year more firmly occupy their place in people’s lives. Certainly, it is impossible to tell that in Russia all is carried out by independent mechanisms, however the certain vector in this direction is precisely planned. Sberbank is already planning to replace three thousand lawyers with smart machines.
Together with experts, we will try to understand why robotics is needed and how to approach it.
What is the difference between robotics for children and professional robotics?
In short, robotics for children is about learning the subject, while professional robotics is about solving specific problems. If specialists create industrial manipulators that perform different technological tasks, or specialized wheeled platforms, then amateurs and children, of course, do things easier.
Tatiana Volkova, an employee of the Center for Intellectual Robotics: “As a rule, where does everybody start: they deal with motors and make the robot drive forward, then make turns. When the robot executes commands of movement, it is possible to connect the sensor and make the robot go to the light or, conversely, “run away” from it. And then there is the favorite task of all beginners: the robot that drives on the line. Even different robot races are being arranged.
How do you know if a child has a propensity for robotics?
To begin with, you need to buy a designer and see if the child likes to assemble it. And then you can give it back to the circle. Classes will help him develop fine motor skills, imagination, spatial perception, logic, concentration and patience.
The sooner you can decide on the direction of robotics – design, electronics, programming – the better. All three areas are extensive and require separate study.
Alexander Kolotov, a leading specialist in STEM-programs at Innopolis University: “If a child likes to build a constructor, he or she will be able to design it. If he or she is interested in studying the way things work, he or she will like to work in electronics. If the child has a penchant for mathematics, he or she will be interested in programming.
When to start robotics training?
It’s best to start studying and enrolling in circles from childhood, but it’s not too early – at the age of 8-12, experts say. It used to be harder for a child to grasp understand the abstraction, and later, as a teenager, he may have other interests and become distracted. It is also necessary to motivate the child to study mathematics in order to make it interesting and easy in the future to design mechanisms and schemes, to create algorithms.
From the age of 8-9 children can already understand and remember what a resistor, LED, capacitor and later on learn concepts from school physics ahead of the school curriculum. It doesn’t matter if they become specialists in this field or not, the knowledge and skills gained will not be wasted.
At the age of 14-15, you need to continue to study mathematics, put aside the lessons in robotics and start learning programming more seriously – not only to understand complex algorithms, but also in the structures of data storage. Next come the mathematical basis and knowledge in algorithmization, immersion in the theory of mechanisms and machines, design of electromechanical equipment of robotic devices, implementation of algorithms of automatic navigation, algorithms of computer vision and machine learning.
Alexander Kolotov: “If at this moment we introduce the future specialist to the basics of linear algebra, complex calculations, probability and statistics theory, then he will have a good idea of why he should pay additional attention to these subjects when getting higher education.
Which designers to choose?
For each age there are the educational programs, designers and the platforms differing degree of complexity. It is possible to find both foreign, and domestic products. There are expensive kits for robotics (around 30 thousand rubles and above), there are cheaper, quite simple (within 1-3 thousand rubles.)
If the child is 8-11 years old, you can buy designers Lego or Fischertechnik (although, of course, manufacturers have offers for both younger and older ages). The designer Lego for robotics has interesting details, bright figures, he is easy to assemble and has detailed instructions. The Fischertechnik Robotics series brings you closer to a real development process, with wires, plugs and a visual programming environment.
At the age of 13-14 you can start working with TRIC or Arduino modules, which, according to Tatyana Volkova, are practically the standard in the field of educational robotics, as well as Raspberry. TRIC is more complicated than Lego, but lighter than Arduino and Raspberry Ri. The last two already require basic programming skills.
What else do you need to learn?
Programming. It is possible to avoid it only at the initial stage, but then without it nowhere. You can start with Lego Mindstorms, Python, ROS (Robot Operating System).
Basic mechanics. It is possible to begin with handicrafts made of paper, cardboard, bottles, which is important both for fine motor skills and for general development. The simplest robot can be made from individual parts (motors, wires, photo-sensor and one simple chip). To get acquainted with the basic mechanics will help “Masters with Daddy Spoehrh”.
The basics of electronics. To begin with, learn how to collect simple circuits. For children under eight years of age, experts advise the designer “Expert”, then you can move on to the set of “Fundamentals of electronics. Beginning”.
Where to do robotics for children?
If you see that your child is interested in robotics, you can give him or her the opportunity to take part in circles and courses, although you can also do it yourself. During the courses, the child will be guided by specialists, will be able to find like-minded people and will be engaged in robotics on a regular basis.