DC students interact with robots at AI Hub

Harry Palmer poses with an iPAL robot at the AI Hub.

You see them in the movies, but you can also find them at Durham College (DC).

There are robots – right here – on campus.

The AI (Artificial intelligence) Hub owns three iPAL robots from VTRAC Robotics and gives students a chance to program them through an app only accessible to those involved with the AI Hub.

Harry Palmer, a 22-year-old, second-year DC computer programming student, has recently started working with robots and is loving it.

“It brings a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else,” says Palmer. The AI Hub helps bring results to real-world problems such as business solutions, health care solving and implementation of AI systems, according to its website.

Ali Hirji, the AI Hub’s project manager, says the robots are a good way of showing people how they can interact with AI on an everyday basis.

“It’s a fun interactive tool and allows us to trial and test some applications of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP),” says Hirji.

The robots cost $3,000 each and are programmed to work with children, according to Palmer.

They were first introduced 18 months ago, according to Hirji.

The robots perform basic functions such as being able to move, talk and pose and can also play games such as “rock, paper, scissors,” Palmer says. The robots can be found in the AI Hub in the Gordon Willey building.

AI Hub learning has helped further Palmer’s education immensely, he says. The AI Hub has helped him learn how programming can translate into a career. Palmer says he enjoys the business aspect of the AI Hub, noting he can work with companies in the community and use technology to solve problems.

Although Palmer isn’t 100 per cent certain of his future after Durham College he thinks he would like to do something with artificial intelligence. The AI Hub has provided him with the skills to help him work with technology in the future.

With the advancement of modern-day technology, artificial intelligence is becoming even more prominent in everyday life. Popular devices such as Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa are becoming common for people to own and grocery stores are using self-checkout to save money and improve efficiency.

Now, the AI Hub helps students prepare for the advancements in technology and how to make use of it currently.