Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So You Think Your Robot Can DANCE?

On April 16th, 2011 I attended the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Robotics Challenge. The challenge is open to middle school and high school students.  This year’s competition consisted of 5 categories--Petite Slalom, Mystery Course, Search and Destroy, Innovative Use, and Robot Dance. Each category was very different yet equally challenging.  

I competed in the Search and Destroy and the Robot Dance challenges. My robot detected four tumors in 47 seconds, which resulted in second place. For Robot Dance, I choreographed two robots to dance to the Cha Cha Slide.  The robots danced well and the audience was very impressed.  I was awarded with grand prize in this category. Visit the website for the complete list of 2011 winners.
The day was challenging, rewarding, and fun at the same time. The JHU Robotics Challenge expanded my experience in the field of robotics. I learned a new programming language and improved my engineering strategies. I also found ways to apply mathematics to solve problems I encountered. At the end of the day, I was able to take a tour of the Johns Hopkins campus and the Engineering Research Center.  At the JHU mock operating room, I had the opportunity to control the DaVinci surgical robot. I learned that grad students are integrating webcams with the DaVinci surgical system. They are also trying to integrate Xbox 360’s Kinect with the DaVinci system.  This will expand the system’s gesture base to include the hands and arms. I also operated a robot that was used for spinal surgery. This system incorporated software for haptic sensation. I enjoyed this competition a lot and highly recommend it to those who want to expand their knowledge in the math and science discipline.

-- Text and Photos by Jackie M. (Class of 2016) ; Video via www.abc2news.com