Aberystwyth University is fortunate to count Stephen Fearn as a staff member. He has been building robots for entertainment, in his spare time, for years. Everything from an entry to Robot Wars through to a full-size operational Dalek replica.
These robots are often seen at outreach events as well as none university related conventions (for example; ComicCons and Steampunk events)
Below is an introduction to each of these entertainment robots
This was Stephen Fearn's first interactive robot; a full-scale replica of Dr Who's beloved companion, K-9.
Built from fiberglass, this 2.4 Ghtz Digital radio-controlled full-size replica of K9 has had many facelifts during its development, but substantially built on a chassis that is driven by two wheel chair motors, and running at 24v via a Sabertooth motor controller, which makes him ultra fast and very responsive.
After many years of building interactive exhibits, experience has shown Steve that whatever is built has to have the WOW factor as well as being kiddy proof. Several alterations to the running of K9, now see him running on two 17Ah dry cell batteries that will enable him to run for several hours of reliable operation.
See the below video for more about this K-9 replica from his creator
This replica remote-controlled R2D2 often appears at robotics and sci-fi events across the UK. He has even met and been signed by the original actor, Kenny Baker and his stunt double.
Steve talks more about his cute little robot in the below video
This Star Wars Droid replica is the only static (non-mobile) robot in the collection so far. The decision to keep it as a non-roaming robot was simply due to time constraints and the fact he always attends events alongside the fully functional R2D2 unit.
The below video explains a little bit more about the construction and design of this robot.
This robot is an interesting reimagining of R2D2 as a steam/clockwork powered droid. Dizzy has proven very popular, especially within the steampunk communities.
For more information about Dizzy please watch the below video presented by Steve.
Steve has been a Dr Who fan for many years and has always loved the Daleks. Therefore, he decided to have his own Dalek machine. Dalek Doris is a home made Dalek replica based on the new series of DR WHO. Dalek Doris is a hybrid, incorporating the NSD (New Seasons Dalek) and the classic Dalek.
It is made mostly of MDF with a few metal parts. The dome and skirt is of course, made of fibreglass. It does everything the television Daleks do. It moves on a Shoprider mobility scooter. Top Speed 10mph, and there is a voice modulator built in and the dome lights also flash, so it is loaded with special effects.
Below is a video interview with Dalek Doris, this was done as part of our annual BeachLab event for 2020 (here is the link to the full BeachLab 2020 broadcast on YouTube).
If you have any further questions you would like us to ask Dalek Doris please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
As a side-note; Dalek Doris is probably the only Dalek in existence that also can also speak Welsh!
Dalek Doris not only helps with outreach events but is part of a team spread across the UK that attend charity events free-of-charge (see Dalek Doris's webpage for more information).
Stephen Fearn worked alongside students at Aberystwyth University to produce 'Infinity', a battling robot built to contend in Robot Wars.
This 100kg robot has 7.5mm thick armour plating, a pincer-like front weapon and the ability to drive either way up.
The video below is the Robot Wars Extreme: University Challenge originally aired on BBC Choice in January 2003, featuring 'Infinity'.
Infinity has undergone some modifications recently, in the hopes of participating in the recent Robot Wars reboot but, was not ready in time for the first and only series.
With Robot Wars no longer aired in the UK, you may be mistaken into thinking that battling robots are a thing of the past.
Instead there is now a rise in interest amongst roboteers to produce smaller units to compete in sumo-wrestling style battles.
We often feature this style of battling in our school workshops with Lego Mindstorm units. However, Stephen also hosts and participates in competitions outside of the University.
Here is a video about his Sumo-Bots:
If you are interested in participating in one of his events, or wish to know more about the rules and limitations for Sumo-Bots please visit our Robotics Club Page on Sumo-Bots (not yet updated to 2020 as all events were cancelled due to Coronavirus)
The Barnes Rover is not an entertainment robot, it was built by Stephen Fearn to use as an educational platform at Aberystwyth University. It is a simplified replica of the Rosalind Franklin Rover which will be hopefully launched to Mars in 2022.
We use this robot to aid with research, and to demonstrate the size and complexity of this vehicle at various public and outreach events.
In fact, the live televised unveiling of the Barnes Rover was done during one of our Robotics Week activities in 2018
Steve and Tomos Fearn have also produced smaller model robots of the rover for various educational workshops, exhibits and fairs.
As well as designing and building robots, Stephen Fearn also helps co-ordinate the Aberystwyth Robotics Club. This involves supporting others in creating their own robot builds.
One of the Aberystwyth Robotics Club members has been busy putting what she has learnt into practice by producing her own Scutters, based on those seen in Red Dwarf.
As part of BeachLab 2020, she kindly produced a video about her project which is shown below.
This year we provided our Robotics Club beginners with their own Elegoo kits to build a four-wheeled robot from scratch, before learning how to program it to use sensors to navigate. Unfortunately, the projects have not been completed due to Coronavirus lock-down.
These kits are available commercially with concise building instructions. We hope to soon provide more details of starter kits in a future series of workshops
Our own, recently appointed, Faculty Outreach Officer has been unable to avoid the lure of the resources available through the Robotics club. As a result she is now working on rebuilding 3 Cybot units and 2 of Cybot's TOM companion robots. Once completed we hope to incorporate them into outreach activities and exhibits.
Stephen Fearn hinted about his next major entertainment robot project during the live online broadcast of BeachLab 2020. Tucked away in his top secret workshop, is the makings of a Time Machine. Only 'time' will tell which rendition he has chosen to replicate.
Once the lock-down restrictions are eased to the point where events can be held again, we shall keep you up to date here
Most of the above videos were created for and broadcast in Aberystwyth University's Online BeachLab 2020.
Here is the link to Aber Robotics Club
To discuss outreach possibilities, please contact Natalie Roberts: email@example.com