Undergraduate students present robot design at Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS) conference

The significance of TAROS

TAROS is a UK peer-reviewed conference on robotics which is held annually at different universities within the UK. It allows students, researchers and industrialists to come together to share their discoveries in the field of robotics, and to look towards developing the technology of the future.

“Being able to attend and present at conferences such as this is great for students to gain further perspective into the industry and to develop their skills and experience.

“Competition is high to take part, with speakers usually leaning towards postdocs and PhD students, so we were delighted when two of our MEng (Hons) Robotics students, Rebecca Harding and Charles Freestone, had the opportunity to speak in 2019 – the 20th anniversary of the conference.”

Dr Ian Howard, Associate Professor Computational Neuroscience, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Taking part in TAROS by Rebecca Harding

<p>Final-year MEng (Hons) Robotics students, Rebecca Harding and Charles Freestone presenting at the 20th TAROS conference<br></p>
<p>Final-year MEng (Hons) Robotics students, Rebecca Harding and Charles Freestone presenting at the 20th TAROS conference<br></p>

Our route to the conference

The pathway to the conference for Charles and I began when we created a spherical robot designed to withstand impacts, as part of our module on robotics masters.

The robot is able to traverse difficult terrains, go up an incline and survive falls and impacts. We think a robot designed this way could be used in the application of demining. The robot is cheap to create, so it could be produced in large numbers to provide a safe and cost effective way of detonating land mines.

Once we had completed this project, our lecturer for Advanced Robot Design, Dr Martin Stoelen, suggested submitting the work to the TAROS conference. We wrote a paper about the robot, it was accepted, and we were invited to take part in the three-day conference at Queen Mary University of London.

Our talk

Our talk detailed the application for the robot, how we designed it and why the design features included were beneficial. We spoke about the testing we had undertaken and the results we obtained. Plus, looking ahead to possible future work, such as producing a swarm of these robots.

We presented to an audience of fifty-plus, which included a few masters students and lots of PhD students and researchers in the field of robotics. Charles and I had twelve minutes to present using PowerPoint slides and there was a three minute question and answer session.

Benefits of the conference

As well as the talk itself, there were valuable networking breaks and lunches, in which some people asked us for more information on our robot. The hope is someone could choose to develop our work further and perhaps one day an improved version of our robot could actually be used in demining.

I enjoyed talking to others about their research and learning from them. I have stayed connected with some of them, which could be useful in the future.

This experience has boosted my confidence and public speaking skills. 

I was quite nervous before the talk, due to the large number of people and the fact that most of them are undertaking or have completed a PhD, but afterwards I felt very proud of myself. 

I would feel much more comfortable if I was asked to do the same thing again now.

Talking at TAROS will look very good on my CV and it is definitely an experience I would talk about a lot in interviews.


Rebecca Harding and Charles Freestone presented at TAROS conference, 5 July 2019


Taking BEng (Hons) Robotics to the next level, this MEng course digs deeper into the robotic technologies that are shaping today and tomorrow. 

Providing an extra year of insight and training, your learning will be informed by robotics research pushing boundaries worldwide led by our very own teaching staff. You’ll build technical and managerial skills that you can put into practice daily, through a final group project that will set your course for success when you graduate.

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