Robots take over Brisbane university

A goldfish steering its fish bowl around the room like a car might seem like something you would only ever see in a cartoon.


But as Alex Oliveri, 9, watched that very scenario play out in front of him in real life, he took it in his stride and thought about all the robotic contraptions he would like to make in his future job.

The peculiar scenario, which was made possible by a vehicle called the Abovemarine, was par for the course at Robotronica – a futuristic event celebrating all things robotics held at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane on Sunday.

The mobile robotic tank enabled the fish inside to “take a walk” based on the direction it swam.

“I can’t say what my favourite thing is because it’s all so cool,” Alex told AAP.

“This is what I want to do when I grow up because I think robots can help people.”

QUT creative director Jonathan Parsons said the aim of the event was to educate people about robots and how much we will not only rely on them in future, but already use them now.

“This event is designed to unpack the fear surrounding robots and say, well, it’s not something to be feared,” Mr Parsons said.

“But it does mean the world around you is changing and if you do want to participate in a robotic society, a robotic culture, which is what we’re seeing happening, it does require some different sorts of skills.”

The public were able to play Connect Four against a robot, try to manoeuvre a robotic hand and see the practical applications of robotics, including a device called Harvey that plucked capsicums from a tree with a mechanical arm by sensing the vegetable’s colour with a camera.

There was also a keynote address from the world’s first certified cyborg, Neil Harbisson, who uses an antenna permanently implanted in his head to combat his colour blindness.