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3D scanning robot wins Cardiff graduate top award

28 September 2017

Photograph of Samuel Martin

A robot that creates a 3D map of its surroundings whilst moving through the environment has earned a Cardiff University graduate a prestigious prize in The Undergraduate Awards 2017.

Pitching his creation against over 6,000 of the brightest minds from across the world, Samuel Martin was among the top 10 per cent of computer science students entering the competition, and was selected as the Regional Winner for Europe in his field.

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s leading undergraduate awards programme, originally set up to increase the profile of undergraduate research projects and bring together students from all over the world.

Samuel’s robotic creation, named “sprinkles”, cost under £100 to build and is able to scan its environment by firing a laser at an angle and measuring the shape of the reflections.

Made from a 3D printer and with a Raspeberry Pi on board, the robot can quickly process the laser’s data and build up 3D picture of its environment. At the same time it can easily traverse its environment and avoid obstacles.

3D scanning robot

Disaster recovery

Samuel believes his low-cost creation could be applied to a wide variety of industries, such as disaster recovery where a fleet of relatively cheap robots could be initially deployed into a collapsed building instead of risking more expensive equipment. The technology could also be mounted onto drones to examine the area from above.

On receiving the award Samuel said: “I was shocked and amazed to find that my project had been shortlisted for the global Undergraduate Awards. I have never been good at papers or essays, but this was something I had a passion for. I am so proud that it's been recognized inside of Cardiff University and out.

“My main aim was to prove that you don't need super-duper hardware or a PhD in electronic engineering to make a robot from scratch and to get it to do some pretty amazing stuff.”

Samuel’s award submission was anonymously assessed by a panel of international academics and industry leaders and was shortlisted in the Highly Commended category, representing the best 10 per cent of work.

He was also selected as a Regional Winner in Europe, representing the best submission on the continent for Computer Science.

Samuel, who graduated from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics in July, has been invited to receive a certificate for his award at the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit in Dublin in November.

Dr Brenda Cullen, Executive Director, The Undergraduate Awards, said: “It is an immense achievement for undergraduate students to benchmark their work globally. To be recognised for their creativity and innovative approach within their discipline can only propel them to become global thinkers and potential change-makers. We are very appreciative of the support of the global academic community who work closely with The Undergraduate Awards to identify these impressive students.”

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, said: “The Undergraduate Awards celebrates original, creative thinking among students, and the world’s need for such critical capacity has never been greater.”

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