Click to start the slideshow. Source: Ekaterina Turysheva / RBTH
Paint a picture of Russia’s robot technology today it would look something like this: 1,500 teams from 49 regions, and more than 8,000 young people engaged in engineering work in 53 specialized resource centers.
For the final touches, add the number of annual festivals and multimillion-dollar investments, which are consistently promoting robot technology among young people in Russia today.
The first Irkutsk Festival of Robot technology, RoboSib, which was held in the city at the end of November, allowed participants to show off their technical craft and take part in the competition of about 300 entrants from across Siberia, ranging from 6 years to 30 years old.
There was no free space in Irkutsk SibExpo centre: In every corner, one came across someone's piece of engineering mind: a watering system for plants, an apparatus for the preparation of cocoa, or a robot tank.
In some squares the robots pack objects in boxes, go racing, by pass obstacles, or raise a flag. But across the festival, the entrants seemed to exclaim the same slogan: "We are a new generation of engineers!"
They came in t-shirts, and lean against the desk to set up the program and check the wires. The youngest guests of the festival make their first robots from Lego bricks.
At the festival, you meet children who have since kindergarten been able to distinguish between the transistor and resistor, and even know why they are needed.
Why do humans need robots? Participants will tell you: Robots, they say, show promise for use in the military sphere, and where work is dangerous, for example, when collecting radioactive debris.
"The cost is, of course a negative. But human life is more expensive — it’s priceless,” a young participant said.
But for many of the participants of the Festival Robot, technology is rather a childish passion. Although guys are willing to spend hours in covering details of their robots from each other, and in protecting the projects for the importance of speaking English, major plans for the future are not so simple.
It is more likely for children to talk about more abstract topics such as the place of robots in human life in the future.
"Now we have built a robot to participate in specific competitions, but in general the scope of application of robots is vast,” said another participant, students at a lyceum.
“It is possible that the future will be a mixture of human and artificial intelligence.”
But is it possible to completely replace human by a robot? “Everywhere, no, as of now. But it's inevitable," said a participant from the Irkutsk aviation technical school.
And while the children fantasized about our technological future, the adults saw a future in the youth. The organizers of the festival confessed about what the future is and when it will come. For now, the future is making their first steps in robot technological.
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