UPenn's Robockey Cup Looks Like Fun, Even At Night

UPenn disguises practical robotics course with autonomous hockey, reportedly makes learning fun

1 min read
UPenn's Robockey Cup Looks Like Fun, Even At Night

We're onto you, University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering. You say you're teaching your students about computer-controlled electromechanical systems, but really, it's all just one big excuse to host your own robockey tournament every year. You're not fooling anyone, even if you host your matches at night.

The final exam in UPenn's Design of Mechatronic Systems class has the students designing a mechatronic system in the form of a small team of autonomous hockey-playing robots. These teams of robots face off against each other in a big tournament of "robockey" (not robohockey, but robockey), where I assume the winning team gets an A+ and everyone else fails the course. Watch some of the action unfold in the video below:

I guess sometimes these robockey matches even take place in the dark, with admittedly cool results like the picture at the top of this article. Here's another one, just for kicks:

Not bad for a team of unintentionally artsy robots. Long-exposure Roomba and friends would be proud.

Via [ UPenn ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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