| CMU Trikebot |
Last Modified: 2006-11-27
The Summer Robotics Autonomy course was held over the summer of 2002 at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. This course taught very strong robotics and computing fundamentals with an emphasis on programming a robot. The students were picked from a pool of the brightest students in the greater San Fransisco area and it offered a group of tremendous students the chance to shine in the arena of technology and teamwork. Many of these students may have not had these opportunities without the funding, assistance, and energy supporting this course.
The Students and Faculty of the Robotics Autonomy Workshop
The Trikebot was largely the brainchild of the course designer, Illah Nourbakhsh, head of the Toy Robot Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. The main goal of this robot was to build a robust platform that the students could assemble while still allowing them to focus on the programming challenges inherent in sophisticated robotics.
The Trikebot completely assembled without a host computer.
Tom Hsui was enlisted for the mechanical design. He is an extremely gifted mechanical engineer with past projects including the free swimming dolphins from the Free Willy Movie. Tom has worked in animatronics and related engineering circles for years. He also has several interesting designs he is working on in the are of inexpensive devices for use in assisting those with disabilities.
Tom Hsui fresh from the Laser Cutter with all Trikebot parts
Acroname was enlisted to incorporate the BrainStem architecture into this robot as it is ideally suited for integration into robotics application that use consumer hardware to interface with robotics sensors and effectors. A novel Back-EMF circuit was developed to be used in conjunction with the Moto 1.0 Module to keep costs down after an initial suggestion from collaborator Randy Sargent of Handy Board fame.
The official Summer Robotics Autonomy website includes all the curriculum, student reactions, and interesting information both created and derived from this course.
A link to some fantastic films put together by NASA that covers the robot course including some interviews with Illah, students, and some footage of the student's robotics in action.
The basic design of the Trikebot is covered in a recent paper titled "Designing a Low-cost, Expressive Educational Robot". The paper can be viewed and downloaded at Illah's homepage.
The students have continued on with the robots past the end of this course (they got to keep the entire system). They have even created their own website dedicated to sharing and extending what they learned in the course. It is exciting and noteworthy that these students are maintaining this based exclusively on the experience and connections they made during this course. Not many workshops have this type of staying power.
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