• Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

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24-hours in the life of Robot Dog: the University of Sunderland’s latest recruit

It’s been anything but a dog’s life for the University of Sunderland’s latest recruit who is fast becoming the centre of attention on campus.

The University’s Faculty of Technology always prides itself on being on the cutting edge – but have they bitten off more they can chew after enlisting Bernard the Robot Dog?

We spent 24-hours following the metal mutt and discovered he’s having quite an impact on both students and staff.

It’s an early start in the University library for Bernard and he brushes up on some studying. Part of his role at the University will involve research projects.

Bernard knows that he has a big task in front of him and he’s determined to come out as the top dog.

After all that brainwork, this canine is ready for a cuppa, so he heads over to the café in Prospect building, plonking himself down in a comfy seat and enjoying a brew.

He notices a few stares from students, but this doesn’t bother him too much – he knows he’s one pretty pup.

Heading out the café and across the quad, he notices someone is barking at him for a selfie, so this posing pooch is happy to oblige and the student snaps away.

After a relaxing lunch with some pedigree chums, Bernard climbs the stairs towards the Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre where he will be enjoying an afternoon of work learning about his new tasks for the Faculty of Technology.

Time for an afternoon stroll with owner Professor John Murray who threw Bernard a bone and brought him to the University. Professor Murray aims to use Bernard as an example of how his faculty is leading the way in technology.

Just as he is heading back to his kennel for the night, Bernard bumps into old friend who is also out for a walk along the riverside at St Peter’s.

The pals shoot the breeze, discuss their days and swap top tips on the best nearby grooming parlours. It’s always nice to catch up with fellow canines.

It’s been a long day, so Bernard heads off from the campus for the day, safe in the knowledge he’s bringing not only vital technology research to the University, but also putting a lot of smiles on people’s faces – after all, he is man’s best friend.

Q&A with Professor John Murray

Why does the University have Bernard?

We are currently investing into the Faculty of Technology.
Bernard is one of the most, if not THE most, advanced quadrupedal robot in development, and there are only a handful of other universities within the UK that have access to this technology. As we are reimagining Computer Science and Engineering, Bernard sits at the forefront of these disciplines with the latest engineering and computing technology.

What is his purpose?

The robot will be used for promoting technology and the Faculty of Technology at outreach events, open days and recruitment. He will be used to showcase what technology can do and how it can be used in an applied way to solve tasks.
We will also be using Bernard for research projects. I am currently working on a search and rescue scenario for having Bernard be able to administer treatment to trapped and injured people in hazardous environments. Coupled with our new Automated Industry 4.0 factory lab this will form the centre point of the faculty.

And how will the University’s students benefit?

The technology that goes into creating, designing, programming and controlling Bernard will be embedded into curriculum for students to learn how these technologies work, but also how they can be used in industry.
There will be opportunities for students to try our controlling the robot, if they support outreach and open day events they will be able to take care of the robot, showcasing it to visitors. However, project students will also have the opportunity to take on final year and MSc dissertation projects that use the robot, here they can look at writing code, designing sensors, evaluating applications of the robot for industrial applications and projects.