Tag: news

RBE’s Undergraduate Spring Meet & Greet: The MQP Project Fair!

Filed in News by on February 28, 2018 0 Comments

Last Friday, February 23rd, the Robotics Engineering program held its annual RBE Spring Meet & Greet, giving undergraduate RBE majors the opportunity to learn more about the faculty, find out about the research happening right now at WPI, and — most importantly! — get a sneak peek at some of the Major Qualifying Projects presenting at this year’s Project Presentation Day.

For those who missed the Meet & Greet, a zip of the slideshow is available to download by right-clicking here.

Beyond WPI: The Markhor robot wins Regolith Mechanics Award at NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition

Filed in News by on June 1, 2017 0 Comments

The culmination of every senior undergraduate student’s career at WPI is the major qualifying project — but the life of a project doesn’t have to end after the college’s Project Presentation Day. One such project is the Markhor mining robot, which went on to compete at NASA’s 2017 Robotic Mining Competition.

[The RMC is a competition] for university-level students to design and build a mining robot that can traverse the challenging simulated Martian terrain. The mining robot must then excavate the regolith simulant and/or the ice simulant (gravel) and return the excavated mass for deposit into the collector bin to simulate an offworld, in situ resource mining mission. The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the regolith simulant, the weight and size limitations of the mining robot and the ability to tele-operate it from a remote Mission Control Center. The on-site mining category will require teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and dust projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required and autonomy. In addition to the on-site mining category, teams must also submit a systems engineering paper that explains their design philosophy. (NASA’s Eighth Annual Robotic Mining Competition: Rules and Rubrics)

Out of the nearly fifty teams that competed, Markhor won the Regolith Mechanics Award, “[a]warded to the team with the best example of a real granular innovation that identified a specific regolith mechanics problem (like the way the soil flows around the grousers, or angle of repose too high in their dump bucket, etc.) and intentionally improved their design to deal with it.”

To find out more about Markhor and the team of WPI students and faculty behind it, see WPI’s official announcement of the win and its news article about the team, see videos of the robot in action, or come to WPI’s TouchTomorrow event on Saturday, June 10, where the robot will be on display!

RBE Items of Interest: May 19, 2017

Filed in Items of Interest by on May 19, 2017 0 Comments
RBE Items of Interest: May 19, 2017
"Geometry", by CARP (Custom Autonomous Robotic Painter)

“Geometry”, by CARP (Custom Autonomous Robotic Painter)


Art in the age of ones and zeros: Robot art – A breakdown of the results of the 2017 RobotArt competition, where WPI’s “CARP: Custom Autonomous Robotic Painter” MQP placed 9th out of 38 teams from around the world! Several of their pieces are featured – very exciting!

The Surprising Repercussions of Making AI Assistants Sound Human – It comes down to the user making assumptions about the actual capabilities of the AI. If we add colloquialisms and filler sounds to our virtual assistants, it invites conversation/interaction beyond just directives – and, unfortunately, our AI can’t differentiate between chit-chat and commands.

Adding just a few self-drive cars to the road gets the traffic flowing – A team of researchers led by the University of Illinois tested the effect on traffic patterns with only a few autonomous cars in the mix – a microcosm of what we’re likely to see during the liminal period between all-human and all-autonomous drivers. There’s a lot to unpack here – from the actual results of the experiments, to traffic flow theory, control theory, and human/robot interaction.

Growing healthy resilient biological tissues on humanoid robots – It’s difficult to get musculoskeletal tissue to transplant, and it’s difficult to use engineered tissue because it’s not under the same performance pressure as tissue grown “in vivo.” Solution: Grow the tissue on robots who move like the transplantee will.

Are face-reading blimps and quadcopters in “top hats” the future of drone safety? — A brief overview of some of the practicalities of drones in daily life – from the need to consider three-dimensional safety zones for swarms (requiring “virtual top hats”!) to making drones more approachable by looking more like toy blimps.

3D-printed robot has first soft legs to tackle rough terrain – What it says on the tin. Includes a cute video – it sort of shuffles along.

Robot vs. Volcano: “Sometimes It’s Just Fun to Blow Stuff Up” – National Geographic. Blowing up robots. In a volcano.