12/8/2013 6:35:05 PM
Friday, December 07, 2012
By Mark Adam
Robots took over Siena College last Friday during the second annual RoboShow. Culminating a semester of research and programming, five teams of computer science students put their robots on display. The robots were all programmed to do different things, including playing piano, fetching cans of soda from the refrigerator, playing Simon Says, answering math problems and running away from light.
“This gives students the chance to show off their hard work and it gives the Siena College community the chance to come in and see what we’re doing in the computer science program,” assistant professor of computer science and director of Siena’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence Sharon Small ’89, Ph.D. said.
A piano playing robot, created by Zachary Witter ’14 and Robbie Tateo ’15, scans cards with black and white patterns on them and then plays one of four pre-programmed songs including, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “In the Jungle,” “Heart and Soul” and, naturally, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Another robot played Simon Says and was programmed by Lauren Mathews ’15, Julian Thomas ’14 and Eduardo Barbosa ’13. Their robot won first place in this year's RoboShow. It did all of the basic commands such as putting its arm in and spinning around, but it was also able to complete more complex tasks. The robot sang part of Psy’s popular song “Gangnam Style.” Wearing a headset, Mathews called the commands into the mic and the robot carried out the commands, only when Simon Says, of course. “It was a lot of fun,” Mathews said. She wanted to create something a little kid could learn. She even had her niece play against the robot. “It was very cute seeing her go up against it," Matthews said.
The students spent all semester in their robotics course, which is an upper level computer science class, researching and programming each of the robots. Still, there were problems that they had to solve, like changes in lighting or the robot’s physical capabilities.
“It’s a love-hate thing,” Troy Valle ’14 said. “But it’s awesome when it works.” Valle, Chan Tran ’14 and Kean Smullen ’15 programmed their robot to retrieve a can of soda from a mini-fridge. The robot starts by scanning an AR marker, then moved quickly toward the refrigerator, used its arm to flip open the fridge, moved to the front of it, inched forward, reached in and grasped an empty can of Sprite. It then closed the door while still holding the soda can and delivered it.
Mathew Banville ’15, Paul Cherrier ’14 and Jordan Holoboski ’15 programmed their robot to do math problems. There were three spaces for cards, a number, a math operation and another number set on the table. When 2x3 was placed on the table, Holoboski pressed the button, the robot scanned all three AR markers and the robot said, “2.0 times 3.0 equals 6.0.”
Cherrier and Holoboski said they conducted a lot of research and the process had its highs and lows, but it was all worth it. “When it does work, it’s nice,” Cherrrier said.
The Dracula Robot was stationed in its own room down the hall because it required darkness. Peter Truong ’14, wearing a black and red cape, and Connor Blakeley ’14 wanted to do something with light. So they programmed a robot to run away from light as a vampire would. They setup seven light sources in a dark classroom and then turned one off. The robot’s head spinned around as it scanned for light and then moved across the room to the darkest area.
When asked if it was a fun project Blakeley said, “How could you not have fun? We’re working on a robot.”
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