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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in People, South Africa | 0 comments

Super South Africans: Luke Taylor – Google Science Fair Finalist

Luke Taylor

[pullquote]Knowing is good; understanding is better[/pullquote]

Just making the list of semi-finalists was a huge achievement. Now, 14-year old Capetonian Luke Taylor has been selected as one of just 15 finalists in the inaugural Google Science Fair. His project will now go up against 4 others (all for US-based entrants) in his 13 – 14 year old age group.

The 15 finalists will now take their projects to Google headquarters in the USA in July to compete in the final, a live event, where world-renowned science judges will select a winner in each age category, as well as a grand-prize winner.

So what did the Grade 9 German International School of Cape Town student propose in his project that impressed the judges so much? Here’s his project outline:

Programming robots can be a slow and challenging endeavour. This researcher asked: is it possible to design an application that can translate English instructions directly into compilable code that a robot can execute?

The goal was to assist those struggling with existing graphic and text-based programming languages. With this in mind, he embarked on a project to help robots understand commands written in natural human language. He limited design and testing to a prototype robot called Tribot and used only a basic set of instructions. The resulting application, SIMPLE, analyses and translates English sentences into C-code. It also compiles and downloads them, as well as assisting users via prompts that request required information to program the robot.

In other words, Luke wants us to be able to talk to our robots in using our natural language and get them to follow these instructions without the need for us to learn complex programming languages to get the commands followed. I think.

Maybe it’ll make more sense to you if Luke explains things himself:

Luke Taylors’ Google Science Fair 2011 Project Video

All I have learned about robots and computer science is self-taught, finding facts and explanations wherever I can and acquiring true understanding through practical application and in many instances trial and error.  As per my local swimming hero Ryk Neethling:  ‘Failure is fuel for success’.

You can check out Luke’s entire Project Submission notes here: http://sites.google.com/site/lukesgsfentry/home

Luke, you rock dude! Fly the flag because, regardless of the outcome of the final judging, you are already a Super South African!

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