Canadian students heading to North American innovation competition with robot that helps manage weight in pets

GUELPH, ON, April 26, 2017 /CNW/ - Students from Glen Ames Public School in Toronto are on their way to California, thanks to their innovative approach to managing weight for pets. The grade 7 and 8 students designed, built and programmed a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS that automatically feeds the right proportion of food to pets, as a solution for weight management – the number one factor in pet longevity, according to Pet Wellness.

The robot, named Petportion, was entered in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition which welcomed innovations for this year's theme, Animal Allies. In February, the Pawsitive Proportionists team finished second in the East Ontario Championships and won the Solution Development award at the Ontario Innovation Celebration. This qualified them to continue to the FIRST LEGO League's LEGOLAND North American Open in California this May.

The competition challenges students to research a world problem and develop a solution. Team members learn to think like scientists and engineers, develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic presentation abilities and STEM applications – science, technology, engineering and math.

"There are well over 100 mathematical calculations that take place within this robot, four sensors, three motors and many variables," said teacher Luke Martin. "FLL projects give students the motivation to learn about programming, variables and engineering strategies." 

Petportion is a robotic device that weighs the pet and provides an accurate portion of food. It uses an infrared sensor and a beacon device on a dog's collar to open a door for access to the food. An LED system provides feedback on whether the dog is underweight, overweight or the ideal weight and adjusts portions accordingly. The innovation has also caught the attention of Royal Canin – a global leader in cat and dog nutrition. The company invited the students to its headquarters in Guelph to tour the facility and see how Royal Canin develops foods that meet the growing demand for weight management in pets.

"Obesity is a significant problem in the pet population and puts dogs and cats at risk for serious diseases," said Dr. Matt Spiegle, a Scientific Communications Veterinarian with Royal Canin. "It's exciting to see the next generation thinking of ways to prolong the lives of pets. Feeding appropriate quantities of food, divided into meals throughout the day plays a key role in preventing obesity and helping our pets live longer, happier lives." Royal Canin is also covering some of the costs of getting the team to the finals in California. 

View the team's video of Petportion at-work: https://www.dropbox.com/s/voxl9e2b16ut5rq/Petportion%20Product%20Video%20Low%20Res.mov?dl=0

The FIRST LEGO League involves teams from more than 80 countries with more than 5,000 students taking part from Canada with the help of 1,000 mentors and 800 volunteers. The FIRST LEGO League's LEGOLAND North American Open is an invitation-only competition that takes place May 19-21 in Carlsbad, California. Spectators are welcome to attend at no charge.

About Royal Canin
Through health nutrition and sharing knowledge, Royal Canin is dedicated to improving the lives of cats and dogs. Royal Canin is a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of high quality, specialized dog and cat foods in the veterinary, pet specialty and breeder channels. Royal Canin's headquarters are in France, and production operations exist in 13 countries worldwide, including the Canadian plant based in Guelph, Ontario. To learn more about Royal Canin, visit royalcanin.ca.

SOURCE Royal Canin

For further information: Media Contact, Natalie Rowe, ON Communication, (519) 964-1952, natalie@oncommunication.ca

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