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MathWorks RobotAt the MathWorks exhibit, students will both see and interact with self-balancing and navigating Lego Mindstorms robots. A key theme of the presentation is highlighting the links between physics, robotics and software. Along the way, we will venture into outer space via unmanned satellites, and closer to home extend our analysis of the balancing robots to “real-world” applications such as the F35 fighter jet and self-driving cars.

We directly consider the physics of balancing, which includes the concepts of forces, equilibrium, and degrees of freedom. The challenges of space missions are discussed allowing us to talk about gravitational slingshots and orbital mechanics.

The link between the robot hardware that the students interact with, and the software, modelling, and simulations which allowed them to be designed and to behave as intended is a highly important workflow in industry. The general problem-solving techniques employed by physicists in a variety of professions, such as software engineering highlights the exciting range of career opportunities available to those with a physics education. Most importantly, we hope that the students find these wide-ranging discussions of physics and its application to be as interesting as we do.

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