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Student Project Wins International Robotics Art Competition

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Robot Art team and professor David Fisher test their robot.

Robot Art Contest Winners: Developing the computer software for the winning project in the recent ABB Robotic Drawing Competition was the team of students and faculty mentor (from left) Eric Guilford, Charles Baechler, Professor David Fisher, and Sean Kling. (Photo by Dale Long)

A trio of students has captured first-place honors in an international competition by designing a robot that creates artwork.

Charles Baechler, a mechanical engineering major from Oakton, Virginia; Eric Guilford, a computer science major from Guilford, Indiana; and Sean Kling, a mechanical engineering major from Miamisburg, Ohio earned the $5,000 top prize in the ABB Robotic Drawing Competition that was part of the Automation Power World's tradeshow earlier this month in Houston.

As a senior-year capstone project, the students wrote a software program that makes a robotic arm draw artistic designs. The winning drawing was the robot's reproduction of a character from Dragon Ball Z, an animated Japanese adventure series.

The robotic art project, part of Rose-Hulman's multidisciplinary robotics program, is being supported by Andrew Conru, a 1990 Rose-Hulman economics and mechanical engineering graduate with an interest in seeing if robots can replicate artworks. He has supplied the team with two sophisticated robot arms, one from the Swedish industrial robotics company ABB, to provide Rose-Hulman students with a creative learning experience and creating beautiful objects using robotics technology.

The students are striving to program the robot to use brushes to duplicate images by applying paint colors to a canvas. Eventually, the robot will mix colors and correct errors while working.

"We're thinking this will become a multi-year project," Guilford said.

Mechanical engineering professor David Fisher, Ph.D., is the team's faculty mentor.