City startup busts myths about robotics

City startup busts myths about robotics


Fed up with an education system that promotes rote learning and "marks" to get a "job", a city-based DIY robotics startup has plans to change it all. They seek innovation and creativity among children — to hone them for future entrepreneurship.

Launched in November 2016 by three IT veterans-turned-entrepreneurs with strong AI, IoT and robotics background, QtPi holds classes for children to sensitise them in robotics and artificial intelligence. 

According to a 12-year-old student, robots are all about the Transformers (the movie franchise), another thinks they are "bad" because they will take over the world someday. It is these myths that the three co-founders of QtPi — Anto Jerlin, Jasion Leon and Raghunath Are, are busting — from the grass-root level. "We teach the children 'how' to think instead of telling them 'what' to think," said Anto. 

In about a year, the startup has reached many schools in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra with children as young as first graders learning robotics and honing their analytical capabilities. "We call the model DESI, — design, electronics, software and integration. We give them a robotics kit that contains building blocks (Qbits), sensors, circuits and a motherboard, so, they do not have to make these things from scratch," Anto said. 

The children, for their part, have not disappointed the veterans as they have been coming up with ideas. From simple remote-controlled cars to conveyor belts, they have made equipment that can collect garbage without human intervention. But what dazzles among their inventions is a model that that tills, sows, and waters the soil. And another that checks the moisture content of the soil. "When integrated, the robot can help farmers who cannot afford such machines, someday," Anto said.

"The initial classes are about design. Then comes electronics. Later, they learn how to connect the bits and give real shape to their ideas. They also learn to programme the robot, so that it functions," says Nikhilesh Suresh, who trains the children.

"The important thing is to enable them to think. First build, then understand what you have built, why it functions the way it does. The world is changing, and the regular education of today will not be sufficient in future. That's why identifying and honing creativity is so important now," Anto said.

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