RoboArm vs Roboquin at Brooklyn’s Mechatronics Competition
Engineering students battle it out at Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab
It was Feedback Controlled RoboArm vs Roboquin at the Mechatronics Competition at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Monday.
On one table a smart prosthetic arm opened and closed its hand on command, while at the next, a fashion-forward robot waved its arms and answered retail customer-type questions. Across the way, students demonstrated a jet-powered vehicle put together from parts made with a 3-D printer. On the floor, a luggage-delivering robot scooted around carrying a backpack.
Design and engineering students from CUNY City Tech put high-tech projects through their robotic paces before a panel of judges at New Lab, a center for cutting-edge tech in a former ship-building space at the Navy Yard.
Lance Mercado, Yuzhen Li and Xiao Lin made the Smart Prosthetics arm that uses muscle sensors to control the artificial hand and fingers. When the user flexes these muscles, the sensors pick it up and translate it into prosthetic hand and finger movement, Lin said.
“Here’s the servomotor to control the fingers,” Li demonstrated. “The servomotors pull strings attached to individual fingers.”
Fatma Naser, Samiha Riham and Syeda Rahman built a Talk and Roll Bot.
“We plan to use it indoors and outdoors for people with disabilities,” Rahman said. “We use three motors and three electronic sensors which detects obstacles. So it can detect obstacles for people who are disabled.”
“We used a Raspberry Pi for the speaker and Arduino Uno for the motor,” Naser added.
The team downloaded Google Maps into the robot, “So it can direct people to where they want to go. It can detect the environment around them,” Riham said.
Farjama Ferdousy and Jane Morales demonstrated RoboQuin, a robotic mannequin that can move its head and arms and speak. The bot can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and to software services running in the cloud via WiFi, the team said. They envision its use in retail — to answer customer questions, for example.
It’s not all about winning
Mechatronics combines electronics with mechanical, computer, telecommunications, control and systems engineering. Each year, the event brings students in these fields together with industry pros at New Lab, allowing them to receive feedback on their work.
Feedback Controlled RoboArm took first place, followed by Autonomous Vacuuming Robot and the Smart Prosthetics project. The top project receives a 3D printed trophy from New Lab.
But it’s not all about winning first place, David Ehrenberg, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, told the Brooklyn Eagle.
“New Lab is really the epicenter of what’s happening in the Navy Yard in general, which is high-tech design and manufacturing companies,” he said. “So being able to bring students from City Tech here to meet the companies to present their work, get feedback on their work and then ultimately, hopefully get internships with the kind of cutting-edge companies here at New Lab is really extraordinary.”
The internship program is open to everybody, Ehrenberg said.
“This year we had 700 people apply for the 100 or so positions we make available. We give priority to local students,” he said.
“What you come to realize is that the companies here are not so much looking for students who have been trained in exactly what they do,” he added. “What they want is the general engineering skills and then the soft skills and the eagerness to work and the eagerness to learn.”
Shaina Horowitz, New Lab’s Urban Tech director, said the complex was thrilled to open its doors to the students “so they can share their work with our member roboticists, engineers and entrepreneurs who are defining the future of technology at New Lab.”
“Public-private partnerships such as this one … help ensure that New York City is able to supply the skilled talent required to advance technology and satisfy workforce demands,” City Tech President Russell Hotzler said.
Forty students on 10 teams participated in this year’s competition. The projects featured a wide range of technology, including a robot arm that can mimic the movements of its sister arm, a jet-propelled RC car, an outlet designed for people with disabilities that can allow them to turn on household appliances by blowing on them, and an autonomous vacuuming robot.
Student competitors were judged by industry professionals housed in New Lab and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including Manifold Robotics, Sosu, Cognibotics, True Bird, Nanotronics, Launcher, the Consortium for Research and Robotics, and Allendale Machinery Systems.
In past years, 10 students participating in the competition have been offered paid internships.
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