Robotics Club Friends


AUGUST 12, 2010 | MIKE ORNSTEIN

This past year has been a busy one for the Robotics Club. We have seen the introduction of a new project, stalwart projects awarded, and improvements made around the club. The URO has continued its support of the club's projects, awarding small grants to every Roboclub project that applied for one. Also, the club has been giving new projects access to some funding in order to get them rolling. One such new project is Stairbot, which provides the club a new interesting mobile platform to develop. At Meeting of the Minds, both the RobOchestra and Colony projects were graced with lifetime achievement awards for their continued hard work in expanding upon their projects. The ASME team also won first place at their regional competition.

A major change to the shop has taken place with the completion of Tooltron. Tooltron has given the club another way to keep everyone who uses the shop safer. Trained members simply swipe their CMU IDs and select which machine tool to use and begin their work. Hot air rework and desoldering stations are keeping the electronics bench up to date. We are also now the proud owners of a Makerbot Cupcake 3D Printer and are learning how to use that in our prototyping process. Making one off parts with our Cupcake in little time is a huge asset to the club.

Projects


Colony

The Colony robots have been scurrying around in controlled formations as the team works hard to nail down a new wireless library and control structure. Always looking to the future, the team has developed the "Scout", a new, compact, low-cost platform that bests the current 'bots in driving speed, terrain navigation, and sensor density. Most exciting is the ability to build attachments for the Scout for future manipulation or sensing tasks. See it in action at http://www.colonyscout.com. Next semester, Colony is moving towards 'Colony City' with a young but experienced team. The city will be outfitted with many 'streets' on which the formation controls perfected this past year can be put to good use.

Air Hockey

An old favorite, the air hockey robot, will soon be defeating human opponents. Demos of the simulator/control software were running at our Open House, and great strides are being made on the mechanical front as well.

RobOrchestra

Our robotic musicians, RobOrchestra, have performed several gigs on Campus, including opening Saturday at Carnival and at ECE Day! The RobOrchestra also earned a spot on the stage at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry as part of the award from Meeting of the Minds. The band is expanding by a few instruments every year, so we have to be inventive under our storage constraints (a great problem to have). We're looking for new venues to play during the upcoming school year, so pipe up!

Stairbot

Introduced this past year as a new project, Stairbot has gone from concept to an almost completed platform. The goal of this project is to combine the advantages of both wheeled and legged locomotion allowing us to create a small platform that is capable of quickly traversing many types of terrain. Hopefully, the next iteration of the design will take place during the 2010/2011 school year with the aid of donations from Prof. Atkeson of the RI. As Stairbot, which has been renamed HyLo (short for Hybrid Locomotion), continues to evolve you can find additional information and updates at http://roboticsclub.org/Hylo.

ASME EarthSaver

Our ASME design team won first place at regionals this year! The team will be moving on to the ASME International competition in Vancouver this November. For the competition this year, the team designed an automatic recycling sorter that separates bottles by material type. They will be making improvements to the sorting speed and accuracy in preparation for the upcoming competition.

Employment


This year the club has active members and recent graduates working in the Robotics Institute, NREC, Bossa Nova, as well as participating in research in both the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Chemical Engineering Department. Our Jobs D-list is quite active! Thanks to everyone who makes use of the list.

Outreach


Something new that the club undertook this past semester was to provide some educational demonstrations to middle school students. Using the RobOrchestra project, we were able to expose students to both the mechanics and controls of robots created to interact with people. We also had some interested precollege students come and learn about the Colony project. We were able to set them up with our introductory labs to get them started in mobile robotics. Fun With Robots, our club-taught course in the Student College is entering another semester, poised for success. The program is looking forward to an updated platform to further enhance the class. In addition,this past year we had training seminars for members on micro-controller programming, SolidWorks, and, as usual, basic machining. With each year, we strive to expand our reach on campus and in the community, so if you have an idea for a Robotics Club event, demo, class, or just for fun, please do suggest it! Events like the Rube Goldberg Ice Cream Competition at CMU late-night are fantastic ways for the community to engage in some creative thinking and problem solving; things all good robots are made of.

Funding


We are grateful for your continued support as we increase our reach on campus and as well as in the community. Any sort of donation, especially of equipment, unloved robots or parts, is greatly appreciated. It is these types of donations that help keep the club going. Unfortunately, Shelfimus can't make his own parts yet, but if we keep him well stocked maybe someday he will!