Robot illustrations and snapshots from life in 2022 will live in perpetuity following the burial of a time capsule at the National Robotarium, a world leading centre for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence opening at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus.

Primary 4 pupils from local school Nethercurrie Primary visited the site as part of the Great Science Share, an annual campaign created to raise the profile of science in schools and communities. Events were held up and down the country on 14 June to celebrate science and its potential for increasing knowledge and confidence amongst 5-14 year-olds.

Following the site visit, organised by contractors Robertson Construction who have led on the build of the multimillion-pound facility, the schoolchildren received a tour of the robotics labs, led by Heriot-Watt Assistant Professor, Dr Alistair McConnell, and were treated to a number of robot demonstrations, including a visit from resident robot dog M.A.R.T.I.N.A.

Robot dog demonstration conducted by male academic to group of primary school children

Dr Alistair McConnell demos SPOT robot dogs M.A.R.T.I.N and M.A.R.T.I.N.A to local school children

They were also asked to draw their visions of robots in the future, which will be stored in the capsule, ready for discovery in many years to come.

“It was an honour to welcome the young people to the University and celebrate this year’s Great Science Share at the National Robotarium. We enjoyed giving tours of our labs and technology, and I was really impressed by the quality and imagination on display in the class robot drawings.

“The centre will be a leader in the exploration, testing and development of robotic and AI solutions and it will be fascinating to see if what we think is possible now marries up with what is achieved by future generations of roboticists.” – Dr Alistair McConnell, Assistant Professor in Computer Science

Dr Sam Clark, Academic Liaison and Outreach Coordinator and organiser of the day’s activities, said: “Events like the Great Science Share are a fantastic opportunity to engage and inspire young people to learn more about science and careers in STEM.

“Alistair and his team of robot engineers delivered a very engaging session and I hope that some of our young visitors will consider coming back to Heriot-Watt to study one of our robotics programmes when they’re older.”

Dr Lindsay Wilson, National Robotarium Manager, said: “We were thrilled to invite the pupils from Nethercurrie School to visit the site of our new facility and are pleased to provide a home for the school’s robot-themed time capsule.

“The National Robotarium is dedicated to developing robotic solutions that play a positive role for people and society and it is great to have these opportunities to demonstrate the potential benefits of using robots or AI to the next generation of learners.”