Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This year at UB-Tech Savvy, we kicked-off our lab's annual outreach efforts with our newer and upgraded ARMLAB's robotic workshop. The workshop offered the most attractive and entertaining experiences while at the same time technically appealing to the middle- and high- school student participants.

The presentations, led by Dr.Krovi and followed by Madusudanan, familiarized the students about robotics, building mechatronic systems and info on valuable resources for being a hobby-roboticist from an early age. A notable addition from previous years' workshops include Nao- (humanoid) and Kinect-based exercises that provided the students with a glimpse of current advancements. The presentation also focused a specific section on medical robotic applications and some of important contributions made by ARMLAB in this niche area. 

As it has been the case in all our previous workshops, the hands-on sessions stole the show hands-on among the school buddies. Altogether four demonstration stations were setup as a part of this outreach effort with the aim of providing the students exciting and state-of-the-art robotic-demos including: (1) kinect-vision based mobile robot controller (by Michael Anson), (2) surgical haptic simulation (by Seung-Kook Jun) and (3) Nao (by Suren Kumar). Sheflika Prasad, a high school student who worked with our lab in the past and recently won the robotics competition (Tech Wars for Autonomous Robot category) conducted by Niagara County Community College (NCCC) received a honorable mention. The functional prototype (autonomous soccer bot) she developed as a part of the competition was also stationed for display that provided the final icing on the cake and made the day overall for us, ARMies. 
1. Autonomous Soccer Bot:
Sheflika demonstrated her autonomous bot that had the capability to sense the line-maps marked on the floor in order to autonomously carry out a operation of picking a ball, moving along a trajectory and dropping it in a target bin. 

2. Mobile Robot and Kinect: 
Mike developed an interactive app using iRobot's API and Kinect API that allows one to intuitively control the motion of the Roomba using the hand-waiving motions which are picked by using Kinect camera and transmitted as appropriate motion commands to move the Roomba to new locations. 
3. Surgical Haptic Simulation using Phantom Omni:
Seung-kook's station enabled students to perceive what is haptics (force feedback) and how it offers a valuable experience to training surgeons using high-res visualization and high-fidelity haptic feedback. The demo provided the students to conduct a virtual ear surgery using the haptic simulator that included both removal of soft tissues and drilling through a hard bone in the virtural reality environment. 
4. Nao- new member joining the ARMies:
The Nao demo, prepared by Suren, displayed the current state-of-art in humanoid robotic technology to the young-buds. The demo showed the capability of Nao in terms of its human-resemblance in motions and interactions with its variety of sensors (auditory, visual, motions and touch).