UTC students show how robotics could help Portsmouth be less reliant on cars


Year 13 students from UTC Portsmouth have shared their ideas for how technology and robotics could help people become less reliant on their cars, as part of a term-long project with Portsmouth City Council.

In September, four groups of students were tasked by the council’s regeneration team to explore how the latest technology, from drones to autonomous vehicles, could be used to help people and goods move around and reduce the number of cars and vans on the roads.

Over the term the students researched how robotics are being used in other cities around the UK and overseas to help people commute, to deliver shopping, or collect waste and recycling. Their research led them to four imaginative solutions that they think could be trialled within Portsmouth. The students’ ideas included:

  • a fast-acting communal composting system that allows neighbourhoods to combine their food and garden waste and reuse the compost in community gardens
  • hydrogen-powered water shuttles to introduce greener, quieter and faster travel around Portsmouth Harbour
  • the ‘Back Buddy’ – a Portsmouth-built autonomous delivery robot that can collect your shopping for you or follow you around the shops to save you carrying heavy bags
  • a personalised online security system to protect delivery drones and robots.

The students presented their ideas to a panel of transport and regeneration specialists who were impressed with the amount of research and innovation displayed by each group.

Councillor Hugh Mason, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and City Development, listened to the students’ final presentations and said: “I was very impressed with the imagination and ingenuity on display from the students at UTC Portsmouth. They had carefully considered the brief and each group identified key challenges facing cities as we look for greener ways to transport people and goods. They devised interesting solutions to these challenges, drawing on their studies at UTC Portsmouth as well as seeking input from other projects and experts around the world. With the creative ideas and the technical know-how of these students, I think we can expect to see an exciting future ahead for Portsmouth.”

Alex Blandford, Assistant Principal at UTC Portsmouth said: “Our students are extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the expertise of so many individuals involved in this project. Not only are they gaining an understanding of how their city is focusing on regeneration and the part that cutting edge technology plays in it, but they are learning key skills in communication, teamwork and problem solving along the way. Students’ career aspirations have undoubtedly been raised by taking part in this project and I would like to extend our thanks to the team at Portsmouth City Council for giving up their time throughout the last term.”

The project was one of several employer-led programmes that UTC Portsmouth offers to students. These programmes are an opportunity for the students to gain knowledge and understanding of different careers and learn skills that help them leave UTC with more than just great qualifications.