Factors to Consider When Building a Small Scale Robotics Lab

by August 19, 2020

Robotic Lab

Did you know that today educational institutes like schools, training centers can design their robotics lab?

A robotics lab is a hub of various technologies working together under the expertise of the human mind under a single roof. While anyone can make their own robotics lab, housing numerous robots in a room does not qualify as a robotics lab. In layman’s terms to constitute an ideal robotics lab, one needs a perfect balance of hardware, software, design tools, and human resource. However, many people fail to understand this simple idea and, as a result, are often stressed when planning to build one. In short, the problem areas are lack of information resources and time to understand them. Since the future of robotics is dependent on the vast exposure and experiences gained in the robotics field, it is important to set up a lab, at least in educational institutions and spaces. Hence we present the interested parties, a guide on pointers to consider when building a robotics lab of their own.

 

1. Determine the space pre-requisites: The first and foremost thing is to find out how much space the set of equipment will occupy. For instance, a school will need a few rooms to house robots to teach students the basics of robotics and some programming, whereas a research lab would not share similar space requirements like a school. The latter would need a minimum of dozen robot stations, few demonstration stations, workstation, and equipment storage. Further, some labs need security fencing, especially to ensure the safety of students and researchers from accidental contact with robots of industrial configuration and to prevent theft of robotics equipment too. Also, if an educational body has more space and resources, it can invest in having full-size robotics equipment for higher education.

 

2. Flexible Design Strategy: Though most of the robots are not mobile, yet one cannot ignore having a flexible design strategy. For instance, at Tri Star Career Compact, Celina, Ohio, the robotics lab also focused on flexibility in design. After paying a visit to the Honda North American Training Center in Marysville, Ohio, the school authorities notice that the lab has ceiling-mounted bus duct with movable electrical disconnects for power drops, and all utilities are located in the ceiling, including power and compressed air. This allowed the lab to reconfigure robots anywhere along the bus duct line. This inspired Tri Star’s robotics instructor to reconfigure the room layout during construction and implement a different configuration on the first day of school. These flexible strategies apply to both demonstration and full-size robotics equipment.

 

3. Medium of Instruction: While the lab can be made in a state of the art asset but it is equally important to work on how the learners are going to be taught about robotics, through experimentation and illustration. Hence the classrooms or workstation will require proper LED lighting, coding stations, soldering equipment, and overhead tool storage. And programming can be taught using digital tools, such as Scratch, Tynker, Alice, or Code.org. The larger classroom area can accommodate desks with computer monitors that raise and lower via remote control. Such configuration gives the teacher the ability to move from lecture to project-based learning with the click of a button. Further, if there are budget constraints, institutes can opt for free robotic sets like Scratch VPL for programming LEGO WeDo robots.

It is imperative to note that whatever be the scale of the robotics labs being built, concerned authorities should not compromise of quality of the resources used and deployed. They can also ensure that the robotics pieces of equipment are well maintained, and the lab and classroom both provide a welcoming and comforting atmosphere. Moreover, if they want to encourage more participation and enrollment, the robotics lab can be constructed in an area that is easily accessible by road and possesses a characteristic architecture.