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Raunak Hede: obsessed with Robotics 

“Many people consider robotics to be a field in engineering. Others consider it to be a hobby. I think of it as a game; a game which you not only play, but also create and refine as you go along,” claims 12-year old Raunak Hede, an excellent coder in embedded C and Python languages whose passion is robotics. At the recent ‘Technival ‘hosted by National Institute of Technology, Goa, Raunak was not just the youngest participant but also beat students of engineering colleges across Goa to secure the second place in one of the races. A standard VII student of Sharada Mandir, Miramar, the brilliant young inventor speaks to NT Kuriocity about his passion, inventions and competitions.

By Maria Fernandes I NT KURIOCITY

How did your passion for robotics start?

I always had an interest in electronics and one day in 2012, I chanced upon an advertisement in the newspaper for a fundamental course in robotics by “Inventrom”, an electronic technology start-up based in Goa with primary focus on Robotics and Wireless devices. There I learnt how to build robots, then programme them; then build more robots and programme them too!

Can you share your experience in building your 1st robot?

That would be the remote controlled OWI Robotic Arm Edge, which was a really simple ready to assemble kit. This was a surprise gift given to me by my parents at Singapore Science Centre on a holiday there.

Tell us about your latest creation?

ATV Bot, an all terrain remote controlled racer. This one did not come in a kit, but was made by sourcing parts from the net.

To date which is your most prized creation/robot?

LFR v1.1 (Line Following Robot)

At Technival 2014, at NIT, you won the 2nd place at RUSH (RoboRace), tell us about the two events you participated in there?

The first was Laburinthos (Line following) and the second was RUSH, a race for All Terrain Vehicles. Laburinthos was a simple line following competition where speed was of essence. The track was quite large and mostly consisted of straight lines and sudden sharp curves. The biggest challenge was speed and lighting. Towards the end of the track a false trigger caused LFR v1.0 to turn back and hence it took longer to finish the track. RUSH was a race for which teams had to build an All Terrain Robot which could race on rollers, steep slopes, rubble and sand. There were also potential hazards like rock pendulums. The robot also had to maneuver through narrow spaces between vertical poles, which if touched, would result in a time penalty of 5 seconds. The same penalty was given for touching the walls and the rock pendulums.

How do you feel about competing with college students?

The feeling is amazing. It’s a great learning experience and many of the senior students I have met are now close friends and mentors.

What is the most exciting part of creating a robot?

Programming it and then watching it run accurately after putting in hours of hard work. Your robot is your player and the task for it to accomplish is the game level. As you improvise on your robot to accomplish bigger and more advanced tasks, you gain experience and knowledge. The game never stops. It only pauses. The levels are unlimited, and so is the fun!

Where do you get ideas from?

Anywhere and everywhere.

Name some of your creations/robots

ATV Bot, LFR v1.3, Sataklela, Challenger, etc

Which was your most challenging moment in the field?

In robotics and coding, all moments are challenging and exciting.

What is the basic knowledge one requires for creating a robot?

A basic course in electronics, little about motors and some know how about coding.

What part do you think robots will play in the future?

They are already a part of our lives, in our homes as smart refrigerators, in cars as feedback systems, in hospitals as patient monitoring systems, etc. Things like ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT), programmable cars, autonomous bots, in assembly lines and to work in hazardous areas will be the norm in future. For that matter a modern washing machine is in fact a programmed bot, something we take for granted today.

What are your future plans?

Right now I’m just having fun exploring the word of robotics and meeting talented people. There’s so much to see and learn, that it’s really difficult to decide right now.

Something about yourself and what and who inspire you.

My aunt says I have an imagination which is unlimited and it still has wings. Everyday incidents inspire me, life itself is inspiring. Physicists/ Engineers such as Walter Lewin, Michio Kaku, Nikola Tesla, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstien are people I look up to.

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