Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 12-08-2014 Contents Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 10
MILES FRANKLIN PRIMARY SCHOOL
UC's robot Ardie teaches some Miles Franklin Primary School year 3 students tai chi.
Photo: Rohan Thomson
Clever robot has children on their toes
Regular classes for students at Miles
Franklin Primary School were put on
hold last week when Ardie visited.
Ardie is a highly advanced robot
that can walk, talk and hold a
University of Canberra associate
professor in information technology
and engineering, Dr Roland Goecke, is
leading a team of researchers working
The team uses robots for research
into human-computer interaction.
"The robots have clear human-like
qualities. For example, they can
scratch their heads when they are
thinking, or say ouch when they fall,"
Dr Goecke says.
"Looking at the reactions from
people when they see the robots
operate for the first time confirms that
these robots are a great tool to elicit
spontaneous reactions in people.
"We are also quite interested in
exploring the use of robots as a tool to
enhance learning through
Year 2 and 3 students were allowed
to play with Ardie on Thursday and
Friday last week. As they gave Ardie
instructions, students gained a better
understanding of distances, directions
Miles Franklin School principal
Chris Jones said the visit was fantastic.
"It is just fascinating for the
children to see a robot doing so many
different things -- walking in different
directions, doing tai chi, speaking to
them in French, he said. "We have
had robots in schools for many years
but never a robot as sophisticated as
With advances in robotic
programming constantly occurring,
there is keen interest in how Ardie will
behave and what Ardie will be able to
do next time he visits the school.
Mr Jones said he hoped students
could see the possibilities of what
robotics might add to their education.
HEALTH SERVICES EXPO
Spotlight on disability services
The Early Intervention and Therapy
Expo next month will showcase
services that will be available in the
ACT under the National Disability
Minister for Disability Joy Burch
said that the ACT was transitioning
from government to non-government
provision of early intervention
services for children for the 2015
I know families are eager to know
what kinds of community-based
services and supports will be available
to them," Ms Burch said.
"The NDIS is all about giving
people with disability and their
families control and choice over their
But it is a major change, and any
major change can bring uncertainty.
We made a commitment to give
parents as much certainty as we can
going into next year.
The expo will allow families to
connect with services that will help
them get the best outcomes possible
for their individual situations, Ms
The expo takes place on Saturday,
September 13, from 10am to 4pm at
the Fitzroy Pavilion in EPIC.
For more information email
Report on town centre survey ready
The council s report on the results of
the online survey conducted in
preparation for the update to the
Belconnen Town Centre master plan is
now available on our homepage at
An overview of the report will be
presented at our next public meeting
on Tuesday, August 19, at 7.30pm in
the Community Room above the
Officers from the Community
Services Directorate and the
Economic Development Directorate
will provide a presentation on the
Omnibus Territory Plan Variation
sites, especially those in Belconnen --
at Kaleen (former bocce club) and
Charnwood (former fire station).
Our annual meeting will be held on
Tuesday, November 18. Members are
reminded that they need to have
attended three public meetings in the
12 months preceding the annual
meeting, that is from and including
November 2013, to qualify to vote or
stand for a committee position.
Nominations are invited now to fill a
temporary vacancy on the committee
until the annual meeting.
A new survey is now available on
our homepage and on Facebook.
Please send us your ideas on our public
meetings. What sort of topics are
important to the community? What
else could improve the way council
meetings are organised?
Researchers at the Australian
National University are seeking
participants for a study of older adult
drivers to develop tests that to improve
the identification of drivers at risk. See
our homepage for further details.
Current consultations at
www.timetotalk.act.gov.au are on the
Low Emissions Vehicle Strategy
(closes August 19 ) and the ACT
Freight Strategy (closes August 31).
Robyn Coghlan is chairman of
the Belconnen Community Council.
LENDING A HAND
A pair of Canberran firefighters are on
their way to Canada to assist
authorities with the fight against the
worst forest fire season in decades.
Forest fires in British Columbia
have destroyed close to 200,000
hectares of land this season which is
the largest area of land burnt in the
province since the 1950s.
The pair of firefighters will assist
with back-burning and ignition
operations for up to five weeks.
Police and Emergency Services
Minister Simon Corbell said Brett
McNamara and Andrew Halley from
the ACT Rural Fire Service Parks
Brigade flew out of Canberra on
An international call for help was
issued by Canadian firefighting
authorities who were close to
exhausting their internal resources.
Australia received notification from
the Canadian Interagency Fire
Fighting Centre that wildfire
conditions had deteriorated in the
Canadian province of British
Columbia on August 4.
A formal request was made for
resources on August 5 and the ACT
was approached to form part of an
Eighty Australians will fly to the
Canadian province in the coming days
including more than 50 firefighters
"It is likely that the ACT personnel
will be deployed to Kamloops in south
British Columbia or to Prince George
in Central British Columbia," Mr
"British Columbia currently has
high to extreme wild land fire hazards
with more than 170 out of control or
uncontained wildfires burning across
Mr Corbell said more than 198,000
hectares had been burnt out
representing the largest area burnt at
this time of year since 1958.
City of roundabouts gets its 300th set of lights
Roads ACT director Tony Gill
stands where Canberra's first sets
of traffic lights were activated on
When Canberra s first sets of traffic
lights were installed along
Northbourne Avenue they were
greeted with enthusiasm.
It was October 23, 1965, when the
Northbourne Avenue and London
Circuit, and the Northbourne Avenue
and Cooyong Street traffic lights were
activated. Those with tough cars had
just been provided with what they saw
as a drag strip in the middle of Civic.
Almost 50 years later the 300th set
of traffic lights has been installed, this
time on Canberra s outskirts at the
intersection of John Gorton Drive and
Opperman Avenue in Coombs.
Roads ACT director Tony Gill said
it was a sign of a growing city.
"Traffic lights continue to have an
important role to play in the day-to-
day activity; whether it is moving
traffic, protection of pedestrians and
cyclists or giving priority to buses,
Mr Gill said.
But Canberra remains a city of
roundabouts. Best estimates account
for more than 300 across the city.
Whether traffic lights will one day
exceed roundabouts is unclear.
On busy roads traffic lights have
"There is always going to be a
combination, Mr Gill said.
"But as traffic grows, and as there is
more pedestrian activity, traffic lights
provide a little bit more flexibility and
Serious money is also being spent
on converting some roundabouts into
The ACT government has set aside
$10 million to upgrade the Barton
Highway and Gundaroo Drive
intersection. Between 2009 and 2013
the intersection averaged 100 crashes a
year. This crash history made it the
highest priority for Roads ACT for
Construction is expected to begin in
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