NWC Robot Fair 2014

One of the primary goals of the NWC Robot Fair will be to spark an interest in engineering and programming by showing the diversity of robotics and provide hands on activities with robotics. While robotic competitions that involve battling robots can be entertaining, I would like to focus on showing people that robots can be much more and focus on how humans and robots can interact with each other. Manufacturing, telepresence, assistive, and even art robots are a good way to show people how robotics will continue to enhance our world.

Recommended displays:

  1. Manufacturing – Robots are bringing the power of large scale precision manufacturing to individuals. Providing the ability to easily create customized products, these bots are becoming more accessible every year.
    • 3D printers
      • 3D printing has long been used in industrial manufacturing as a tool for easy and precise rapid prototyping. Previously large and expensive machines have paved the way for the affordable and compact 3D printers of today. Speculations are that 3D printers will someday be as common place as an inkjet printer.
      • Having a Maker Bot on site would give people an opportunity to see one in action and inspire the limitless possibilities they provide.
    • Robotic Manufacturing Arm
      • One of the most recognizable forms of a manufacturing robot, these are monstrously powerful machines that can be difficult to program and very dangerous for humans to work with. However, new feedback learning robotic arms are changing the game by allowing it’s human coworker to program them by simply moving the arm into the desired positions. Feedback also allows these robots to be safer as they recognize that something, or someone, is in the way.
      • Having an example of a Feedback robotic arm would allow people to have hands on experience with this type of robot.
    • Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Platform
      • CNC platforms are the fastest and most common form of robotics in manufacturing. They assemble our electronics, carve parts from metal blocks, and even cut shapes from metal, plastic, cardboard or any other material you can imagine.
      • 2D drag-knife CNC cutters are rather easy to make and could perform tasks like cutting someone’s name out of cardboard in minutes.
  2. Telepresence – These bots allow us to travel instantly to places we may not have a chance to go and give us a view of the world that is hard to see.
    • Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs)
      • Most know them as the large and very sophisticated drones used by the military or in deep sea exploration, but these robots are becoming more and more accessible.
      • The Parrot AR.Drone is a good example of a Quadricopter with Telepresence and can easily be flown around the space.
      • A simple internet connected Telepresence robot can be made using a Raspberry Pi and the small $35 Robotics platform I am working on.
  3. Assistive – Ultimately robots will make our lives better by preforming tasks that we ether can’t, or don’t want to do.
    • Robotic Prosthesis
      • These devices are providing disabled people with the ability to use a  part of their body that was ether lost of deformed. Though robotic prosthesis are hard to display, without the person they belong to there as well, lots of information on the subject exists and perhaps showing videos and information from organisations like the Robohand project can show people just how much this can impact the world.
    • Task Oriented Robots
      • Robots that preform tasks promote learning and having small programmable robots, like the $35 Robotics platform, can allow 1st hand experience with making robots that avoid obstacles, follow a path, and even solve a maze.
  4. Art Bots – Promoting interactivity is what Art bots do best. These are the robots that we have fun with.
    • For older people
      • Interactive robots can be on display and available for all attendee’s to interact with.
      • Sphero is a small ball shaped robot that can be used to play many interactive games.
    • For younger kids
      • A robot “petting zoo” could be made of small and durable interactive robots that kids can chase, pet (like one with fur that vibrates and purrs when pet), and enjoy.
      • For smaller children we can have a place to build small robots like the following:
        • DIY Vibration BEAM Robot Bug Set

        • Art Bot

        • Bristlebot: A tiny directional vibrobot


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