These students from an Arts college in Chennai just built their own robot, called SARA!

SARA - Shasun’s Adaptive Robotic Assistant - is six feet tall and can answer most of your questions. And no, it wasn't built by engineers
Students at Shasun Jain College with their robot SARA (Pic: Edexlive)
Students at Shasun Jain College with their robot SARA (Pic: Edexlive)

How about you enter your college and instead of a receptionist at the help desk, a robot greets you? How exciting does that sound? For the very first time in the country, a group of students from an Arts and Science college in Chennai have conceptualised and developed a life-size humanoid robot driven by Artificial Intelligence technology.

Developed by third year students pursuing their Bachelors in Computer Application at Shri Shankarlal Sundarbhai Shasun Jain College for Women, the robot called SARA was entirely made from scratch by students with the help of their teachers and in association with Do-it-Yourself Academy (DIYA), a robotics training centre in Chennai. SARA was launched on September 23 at Shasun Jain College as a part of the inauguration ceremony of their yearly cultural fest Shreyas. The humanoid was unveiled by chief guests — Gopinath Chandran, television anchor, Erode Mahesh, anchor, Aseem Tamboli, Director, Deskera and L Ashok, Managing Director, Futurenet Technologies.

Robo-marvel: Capable of answering any question about the college and its courses, SARA will help visitors understand the courses and activities offered by the college

SARA, which expands to Shasun’s Adaptive Robotic Assistant is six feet tall (taller than any average human being) and weighs 29.2 kilograms. It is equipped with an inbuilt sensor that enables it to recognise movement and it also supports a webcam that has inbuilt face recognition technology. So, basically the humanoid can respond to you if you say ‘Hi’ and can welcome guests and greet them with warm handshakes. “The students came up with the idea themselves and brought it to us. They do not have robotics included in their curriculum but they wanted to learn something completely different. The management has always supported such initiatives and we are extremely happy that they became successful in creating this marvel,” says Subhashini S Reddy, the brand manager of the college.

The entire procedure to build the humanoid robot took six months. “We worked on it from scratch. We kept in mind that we had to make it different. It was an out-of-the-world experience to physically build something like this. After finishing with classes, we went to DIYA every day in order to learn and apply the knowledge to build SARA,” says R Hemapriya, one of the six students involved in creating the robot.

Capable of answering any question about the college and its courses, SARA will help visitors understand the courses and activities offered by the college. The robot has a 7-inch tablet as an interface and it is remote controlled. The application to control the robot has been custom-built by the students with the help of developers from DIYA. The control application can be downloaded on your phones, tablets and it currently supports just Android users.

Say Hi to SARA: The life-sized humanoid robot being launched at Shasun Jain College for Women

“SARA can listen to commands like ‘come forward, go backward’ and move. It can also be moved with the help of the application manually. The students from Shasun also developed the application and created the backend software for it from scratch. AI plays a huge role where the interaction part comes in. The robot understands the commands and what we are saying because of AI. Right now SARA is capable of understanding frequently asked questions and giving standardised responses to those. We are continuously updating the database so it can also identify complex questions and answer them. AI also helps with the face recognition as the webcam is attached to the front part of the robot’s body,” explains Udhay Shankar, President, DIYA who helped the students build SARA.

The students also told Edex that most robots today are designed to do repetitive actions and are mostly used in industrial spaces. However, with the evolution of robotic technology and robots being the need of the hour, SARA is the first in the country and is a great innovation in the field of human interfacing robots.

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