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Robotics Team Setting a Course for Land & Water Challenges

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Robotics Team Setting a Course for Land & Water Challenges

Members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Robotics Team have been busy applying their problem-solving skills toward designing and building two robots for national competitions. Now, they're tweaking and testing their innovative ideas.


Testing Things Out: Robotics Team members test their underwater robot prototype in the campus swimming pool. The group includes (from left) Trenton Tabor, president; Kevin Risden, vice president; and Dan Galway, mechanical team leader.

An autonomous-controlled ground vehicle was unveiled at the Intelligence Ground Vehicle Competition (Rochester, Mich.) after two years of development. The robot is programmed to complete a course on a large playing field, without hitting obstacles. It utilizes such technology as a laser reader camera, donated by Elphel, to detect traffic cones and fences that are conveniently placed throughout the course.

Robotics Team President Trenton Tabor indicates that team members designed the robot to utilize easily interchangeable parts in order to insure longevity of the project.

"Everything can be snapped out fast," Tabor said.

The team has also built an underwater robot prototype for next year's international Marine Technology Society's Remotely Operated Vehicle (MAT ROV) competition at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

This year's MAT ROV contest focused on the challenges faced in the offshore oil and gas industry. The mission tasks included removing a damaged riser pipe, capping a wellhead (like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill), collecting a water sample, measuring depth and sampling organisms.

Looking Ahead: Robotics Team President Trenton Tabor tests the autonomous-controlled ground vehicle through a test run during the Intelligence Ground Vehicle Competition.

Rose-Hulman's underwater robot prototype has completed preliminary testing in the swimming pool of the Sports and Recreation Center.

"We're right on track with the underwater robot prototype," said Tabor, a senior mechanical engineering major who is spending this summer learning more about robotics systems at Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.). "Being new to these national competitions, our team is experiencing a big learning curve. We learn something more about the robot every day."

Rose-Hulman's Robotics Team consists of 25 students from different majors that are working on software, electrical and mechanical subsystems for both robots.

"We are all passionate about robotics," stated former team leader Nick Wahl, a 2010 mechanical engineering graduate. "It is fun to share that passion with others."

Corporations and foundations are interested in the robotics team and new robotics minor degree program. Rockwell Collins has recently made a $15,000 donation to support the team. The donation will assist in the development of the underwater robot. Other corporate support for the team has come from Precise Path Robotics, Advance Circuits Solutions, Garmin and Elphel.

Learn more about the Robotics Team at www.rhitrobotics.org/wiki/team.

- By Jessica Squires,
Communications Writer