Reinhard Grassmann is holding a robotic arm steady with one hand and a plastic block under the grip of the cobot with the other, while Puspita Dewi, who is wearing a hijab, is adjusting the cobot's grip on the block.
Reinhard Grassmann (left) and Puspita Dewi. Photo by Chloë Ellingson

Meet the ‘Cobot’

U of T Mississauga is home to one of Canada’s most advanced robotics teaching labs

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Author image: Patricia Lonergan

Patricia Lonergan

Editor, Office of Communications, U of T Mississauga

The Undergraduate Robotics Teaching Laboratory offers students at U of T Mississauga a hands-on, practical way to learn what a robot is and how it works. Here, Reinhard Grassmann, a PhD candidate in computer science, and Puspita Dewi, a first-year engineering student, test how well a robot can grip a 3D-printed tool.

The recently opened learning space features seven collaborative robot arms, known as “cobots.” Designed for co-operative tasks in which humans and robots work side-by-side, these cobots have multiple moving joints and safety sensors so they can safely interact with humans. They can be remotely controlled in real-time and employ computer interfaces and cameras to sense their surroundings.

The cobots are used for experiential learning and project-based assessments in robotics courses, as well as research projects involving machine learning, object manipulation and autonomous task execution.

“I think it’s, by far, the most up-to-date teaching lab I’ve seen anywhere in Canada,” says Jessica Burgner-Kahrs, vice-chair of UTM’s department of mathematical and computational science.

Open to the whole U of T community and a resource for the U of T Robotics Institute, the lab will be used primarily by upper-year computer science students.

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