Lassonde professor brings high school students’ robot to life

Gluttony, the robot created by Singh and Hebert, awaits instructions
Gluttony, the robot created by Amolik Singh and Zakary Hebert, awaits instructions

Two high school students from Northview Heights Secondary School had the opportunity to explore the world of robotics with Professor Michael Jenkin during a recent visit to the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Amolik Singh (Grade 11) and Zakary Hebert (Grade 12) had worked together on a robotics contest, but they wanted to go further. When their co-op teacher arranged a placement with Jenkin, who is a professor in Lassonde’s Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and the director of the York Centre for Field Robotics, they knew they could build something great.

Over the past few months, the duo have been working to create an interactive robot that can communicate with humans and understand commands. The robot, named Gluttony, is not unlike Apple’s Siri. It is able to perform Internet searches, play music, move around and even express facial animation.

Amolik Singh

Singh and Hebert developed the design on their own and had some experience in robotics but needed guidance and advanced skills. Jenkin helped them learn the programming language Python, which is an interpreted, object-oriented,programming language with dynamic semantics. Jenkin also helped the pair solve some of the technical challenges they encountered, leading to the creation of Gluttony.

Michael Jenkin in his laboratory
Michael Jenkin in his laboratory

“It is always exciting to work with students who are interested and engaged in the project, and who are willing to put in the extra effort to make the project a real success,” said Jenkin about his work with Singh and Hebert.

Both students said they want to pursue further study in engineering and computer science once they finish high school. The young men are ambitious futurists, who welcome a robot-run world with great optimism.

Zakary Hebert in the lab at Lassonde
Zakary Hebert in the lab at Lassonde

“I really want to build a robot that can replicate human motion and can be used to help mankind, for example replacing humans in dangerous situations like soldiers on the front lines,” said Hebert. “I disagree with the idea of robots displacing humans. They’re only here to make our lives safer.”

To learn more about robotics, visit the Lassonde School of Engineering website.