Ph.D. Pennsylvania.  The candidate behind this inexpensive and flexible robot made of sticks

Ph.D. Pennsylvania. The candidate behind this inexpensive and flexible robot made of sticks

When you think of robots, you might imagine thousands of dollars worth of equipment, high-tech computers, and lots of metal.

But Devin Carola University of Pennsylvania PhD student in College of Engineering and Applied Sciencesbehind a robot he made with found objects – sticks he picked up off the ground near Bnovation Center.

It is integrated with four AA batteries, circuitry, actuators, microcontroller and motor driver. And sticks of course. The output device is StickBotIt is a modular robot that costs about $100 to make. The structure can be rearranged to move differently or achieve different goals.

StickBot’s vision is a low-cost, accessible robot that can do a variety of things, including crawling and grabbing objects. Carroll was studying modular robotics with a consultant mark yumboss GRASP Lab In Pennovation, since 2015 when he started his graduate studies.

The concept of found robots is not new to Carol. Years ago, he began working on a flexible robot made of ice. The chassis can be deployed in places like Antarctica, where you often can’t send humans to service the device. It was another example of a low-cost system that could operate in harsh environments, and Carol landed in Guinness Book of World Records The first robot made of ice In 2020. Of course, it was called IceBot.

“Trying something new because it sounds crazy is not the worst thing in the world,” Carroll said. “IceBot was all about brainstorming ideas, inserting actuators into the robot’s body, and the same with the StickBot. How can you do this on the cheap in a way that won’t use a lot of energy?”

StickBot Devin Carroll. (photo courtesy)

Carroll also works with Michelle Johnson, Director of the Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory at the GRASP Laboratory. The couple talked about potential rehabilitation use cases for the StickBot, such as humerus rehabilitation or orthopedic cases. They see the potential for these types of robots to be deployed in global healthcare settings, where local materials can be used.

Carol’s interest in robotics began in college in University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has always been interested in sustainable or reusable materials, and his work with robotics at GRASP has focused on reconfigurable robotics and reusable parts. While StickBot and other flexible bot technologies can add, it can also be reused; Players can move from robot to robot.

“We’re trying to make sure that you don’t have to take something new, you can recycle, you can use these materials in different ways,” Carroll said.

He hopes that the low-cost and recyclable nature of some robots will become more prevalent, especially for young people and students. Carroll said that when he was growing up, robots weren’t something that was introduced in high school classrooms, but he knows that teams of robots are becoming more and more common. He hopes that examples like IceBot and StickBot will show that bot solutions can take many forms and are more easily accessible than people think.

“It comes down to cost reduction, some schools can’t afford really expensive robots,” Carroll said. “We would like to give people a chance to interact at a low cost. You don’t need high-tech robots that can fly to build a robot. You can assemble a RC car to get people to start thinking about it in such a way that it would inherently give students access early on” .

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