Club History Overview

Click to Select a Year


Projects

  • RobOrchestra
  • Colony
  • ASME Mars Rover
  • Underwater Swarm Robots

Awards

  • Studio for Creative Inquiry Award - RobOrchestra
  • IBM "Innovation That Matters" Award - Colony
  • Sigma Xi poster competition finalist - Colony

Yearly Recap

The Robotics Club just concluded another great year, including a successful open house during Carnival, and culminating in a great showing at Meeting of the Minds. Two of the club's projects, RobOrchestra and Colony, took home some great awards - and cash prizes - at the research symposium this year.

RobOrchestra has had a very productive year. The project recently switched to the Arduino microcontroller, and has developed a mixer interface that allows a user to program rhythms and melodies in a manner similar to music software sequencers. This year also saw the addition of a new instrument, Bassbot. Bassbot is a pneumatically actuated foot that plays a bass drum via a standard bass drum pedal. Bassbot also has been given some cosmetic treatment to make if look like a severed robot leg. RobOrchestra once again presented at Meeting of the Minds this year, and won the Studio for Creative Inquiry Award for the third year in a row. The Studio award is given to projects and research that bridge the gap between arts and technology. You can see the instruments in action in the videos below.

This year, Colony has also been hard at work, developing three new research projects. First, they have developed a behaviour for mapping environments using the colony of low-cost robots. The robots can explore an area while collecting data about the walls and obstacles around it. This data is compiled on a central server, which creates and displays a map corresponding to the same area. The second new development for the Colony project this year is a robot simulator, which can run robot code on a computer and show how the robots would behave without going through the setup of a physical test. This is a useful debugging tool, which has already led to fixes in the Colony codebase. Finally, the third subproject of Colony this year was the construction of a diagnostic station, which can test and analyst the reliability of the Colony robots. The station is able to perform various tests on each robot to check the performance of each individual sensor. This is an attempt to combat the many problems Colony faces due to the unreliability of low-cost sensors. For this work on the diagnostic station, Colony won the IBM "Innovation That Matters" Award and were also finalists in the Sigma Xi poster competition at Meeting of the Minds.

The partnership between ASME and the Robotics Club has finished another great project, this year to create a "Mars Rover" vehicle capable of obstacle course navigation and rock retrieval and delivery. Carnegie Mellon's entry, Boulderdash, can be viewed in the videos below.

One of the Club's newest projects, the Underwater Swarm Robots, got off to a great start this year. This semester, the team finished making the bio-inspired robot, which will be tested underwater over the summer. They also started testing whale hydrophones for communication and localization purposes. Recently they received a $4385 grant from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Foundation. This grant will be used next year to continue testing the underwater robot and whale hydrophones as well as for designing, creating, and testing multiple smaller underwater robots.

- Christopher Mar


Video Gallery