Students study how robotics could help Portsmouth be less reliant on cars

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Students from UTC Portsmouth have shared their ideas for how technology and robotics could help people become less reliant on their cars, as part of a term-long project with Portsmouth City Council. 

In September, four groups of students from the university technical college were tasked by the council’s regeneration team to explore how the latest technology, from drones to autonomous vehicles, could be used to help people and goods move around and reduce the number of cars and vans on the roads.

Over the term the students researched how robotics are being used in other cities around the UK and overseas to help people commute, to deliver shopping, or collect waste and recycling. Their research led them to four solutions that they think could be trialled within Portsmouth.

The students’ ideas included a hydrogen-powered water shuttles to introduce greener, quieter and faster travel around Portsmouth Harbour.

The team also suggested the ‘Back Buddy’ – a Portsmouth-built autonomous delivery robot that can collect shopping, follow users around shops to save people carrying heavy bags.

Additionally, the students came up with the concept of a personalised online security system to protect delivery drones and robots.

Alex Blandford, assistant principal at UTC Portsmouth, said: “Our students are extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the expertise of so many individuals involved in this project.

“Not only are they gaining an understanding of how their city is focusing on regeneration and the part that cutting edge technology plays in it, but they are learning key skills in communication, teamwork and problem solving along the way.

“Students’ career aspirations have undoubtedly been raised by taking part in this project and I would like to extend our thanks to the team at Portsmouth City Council for giving up their time throughout the last term.”

The students presented their ideas to a panel of regeneration specialists. The project was one of several employer-led programmes that UTC Portsmouth offered to students.

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