Summer Course BEST Brussels 2013: The Future of Human-Robot Interaction

Every year, BEST Brussels organizes its own summer course, held at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). 20 technology students from more than 15 different European countries were selected and invited to Brussels to follow a 10-day course, held from 4 till 13 July 2013. The topic of this year’s edition was “The Future of Human-Robot Interaction” and was sponsored by Siemens, Solvay and Bruface. Our wonderful main organizer was Florent De Ganck.

Human-robot interaction

The past 50 years majority of the robots was found in factories where they do the so-called 3D jobs (dangerous-dirty-dull). Nowadays many research institutes are preparing the coming generation of robots: robots that will work in our daily environment like home or office and this in a broad range of applications. Our summer course aimed to give mechatronics engineering students an introduction to this emerging world of human-robot interaction.

During the course

The theoretical part was given at VUB. For the lab sessions, the Fablab of EhB (Erasmus hogeschool Brussel) was used. From CAD models, the participants made the prototype of their robots using state of the art rapid prototype machines (laser cutters, 3D printers,…). The robots were controlled using an Arduino microcontroller that students programmed themselves, together with the design of the electronics to connect the sensors and actuators.


Teaching staff

The theoretical part of the course was given by prof. dr. ir. Bram Vanderborght, teacher at VUB and known for his work on the social robot “Probo”.


The practical part and lab sessions were given by dr. ir. Ronald Van Ham (known for his work on the bipedal robot Lucy) at the modern Fablab at EhB.

Both teachers are members of MECH, the mechanical department of the Faculty of Engineering at the VUB. Ronald Van Ham is also member of the IWT department (Industriële Wetenschappen en Technologie) at the EhB and teaches there.

The participants

20 engineering students from more than 15 different European countries (Finland, Spain, Danmark, Russia, Latvia,…) were present at the course and hosted by BEST Brussels at the VUB student dormitories situated in Nieuwelaan, Etterbeek.

BEST Brussels also took care of the non-academical part of the course. This included the evening and weekend activities (city rally, international evening, pub crawl, cantus…) but also preparing breakfast, dinner, afternoon snacks and so on.

It was also incredible to see how 20 students from different countries could bond and form such a tight group by the end of the course.



Media exposure


Brussel Deze Week: Edition number 1387, 18 July 2013, Page 6-7 (Dutch)


With special thanks to the partners of The Future of Human-Robot Interaction