November 14, 2011 by Darren
As a kid growing up in Slovakia, computer programmer Kamil Szabo was always fascinated by the Mars Exploration Rovers. NASA calls them “robot geologists” based on their mission to search for signs of water on the Red Planet.
But let’s face it — even if those vehicles had no scientific purpose whatsoever, the fact that these “toys” are still roaming free seven years after they crash landed on Mars is absolutely amazing.
The 24-year-old Kamil’s robotic dreams are much closer to home. He wants to travel to Vienna in the fall of 2012 to compete in Robotour, an international five-country competition where robot designers send their creations to deliver a payload (a five liter beer barrel) to pre-selected coordinates in a city park.
A ticking countdown clock to 2012 Robotour anchors Kamil’s personal website, which chronicles the development of his Spirit Junior robot.
If NASA ever needs beer barrels delivered on Mars, perhaps the Spirit Junior could fill the void. Read More
November 4, 2011 by Darren
Deep in the heart of Texas, high school students are building robots and learning a lot about engineering, thanks in part to a good-natured mentor named Tim Ousley and DraftSight, a free professional-grade 2D CAD product.
A senior engineer who works in software development for National Instruments, Ousley spends a considerable amount of his spare time helping students in the Austin, Texas area prepare for BEST and FRC high school robotics competitions.
Probably the best-known robotic competition is the DARPA Grand Challenge: Driverless cars are required to travel through a series of checkpoints as quickly as possible – through, for example, the Mojave Desert. While the high school competitions require less demanding tasks and smaller and less sophisticated machines, the competition is no less intense. Read More