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Matthew takes control of robot research project

Date 1.09.2016

A sixth-form student has spent the summer at the University of Northampton investigating the possibility of controlling DIY robots with a computer half the size of a credit card.

Matthew Hole, who attends Wrenn Academy in Wellingborough, has been awarded a Nuffield Research Placement – a scheme which offers sixth formers the chance to work on university research projects during the summer.

During his time at the University, Matthew used a BBC micro:bit computer  to control a junkbot – a robot made from junk, such as a drinks can, powered by a kit.

Junkbots have previously been controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer, but the University’s Associate Professor in Computing and Immersive Technologies, Dr Scott Turner, saw the potential to harness the micro:bit.

“The micro:bit has been given away free to every Year 7 pupil in the UK, so it made sense to investigate how well it could control a junkbot.

“Matthew worked incredibly hard on the research project, overcoming several problems, and was successful in harnessing the micro:bit to control a junkbot.

“He used his experience to produce an action pack, which will be available for schools to refer to so that pupils can learn how to control a junkbot with the micro:bit – so Matthew’s research has the potential to benefit thousands of young people across the UK and beyond.”

Matthew said: “The project has definitely helped me to develop my problem solving skills: I’ve learnt how to break projects down into small pieces and work on them methodically, which has been really useful,” said Matthew, who has received a bursary to carry out his work.

“To be able to work on an action pack that will be available for schools to use is also a fantastic thing to have on my CV.”