Inspiring Young Minds

James and I took our 11 year old son, Miles, to the September meeting of the Robotics Society of Southern California hoping to inspire him.  Boy did it ever! RSSC club meetings always start with someone presenting a class on a chosen topic, for this meeting it was TI MSP430 Microcontroller by Texas Instruments.

After a short lunch break we reconvened for the Robot Contest.  This month it was Walking Robots, the guidelines were as follows:

Walking Robot Contest   —-    Proposed Rules
 
The contest entries must be autonomous walking robots with at least 2 feet. 
No wheels are allowed on the robots.
Start and finish lines will be installed 6 feet apart on the floor using 3/4″ wide black plastic electrical tape.
Robots will be placed at the start line. Basic score will be seconds of time required to pass the finish line.
Time limit of 5 minutes to reach the finish line.
Robot with the lowest score wins the contest.
 
Score can be lowered if:
    Robot has only two feet, subtract 60 seconds from the score.
    Robot passes the finish line, turns around and returns to the start line, divide score by 4.
    Robot stops at finish line, subtract 60 seconds from the score.
Entries varied from right out of the box bots to hacked bots to  fully designed and built from scratch creations.

Stryker, winner of the Walking Robot Contest.

Jim Two Foot, runner up.

Walking Robot Contestants

The final segment of each monthly meeting is Show and Tell, this month began with a presentation on a Circular Navigation System.

Martin Mason brought in his TurtleBot, which utilizes ROS voice control and is programmed to follow movement.
A DARwIn-OP (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence) was also brought in.   Said to be “…an affordable miniature-humanoid-robot platform with advanced computational power, sophisticated sensors, high payload capacity and dynamic motion ability to enable many exciting research and educational activities.”  -Dennis W. Hong PhD Virginia Tech
And darn cute too!  DARwIn is able to get up on it’s own if knocked over and was programmed to find and kick a red ball.   The presenter forgot to bring a ball so a young man wearing red shoes volunteered to be kicked by a robot.
We all had a great time and Miles is looking forward to next month’s contest which is to make a Line Following Bot.  For more information on the Robotic Society of Southern California, including the rules on the Line Following Bot Contest and their meetings head to their website: http://rssc.org/
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