Teaching Continuity in Robotics Labs in the Age of Covid and Beyond

by   R. Pito Salas, et al.

This paper argues that training of future Roboticists and Robotics Engineers in Computer Science departments, requires the extensive direct work with real robots, and that this educational mission will be negatively impacted when access to robotics learning laboratories is curtailed. This is exactly the problem that Robotics Labs encountered in early 2020, at the start of the Covid pandemic. The paper then turns to the description of a remote/virtual robotics teaching laboratory and examines in detail what that would mean, what the benefits would be, and how it may be used. Part of this vision was implemented at our institution during 2020 and has been in constant use since then. The specific architecture and implementation, as far as it has been built, is described. The exciting insight in the conclusion is that the work that was encouraged and triggered by a pandemic seems to have very positive longer-term benefits of increasing access to robotics education, increasing the ability of any one institution to scale their robotics education greatly, and potentially do this while reducing costs.


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