Dozens of children huddled around a small arena offset by cardboard boxes. Their parents, college students and professors all stood behind, each trying to get a look at the mind-controlled robot.
The robot started to move and emit a beeping noise, as Islam Badreldin, a doctoral candidate, controlled it via a headset. Badreldin designed the technology as a proof-of-concept to one day create a brain-controlled wheelchair.
At the bi-annual Robot Demo Day held at the University of Florida Wednesday, students in an Intelligent Machines Design Lab course showed off their robot inventions.
The students in the course started work at the beginning of the semester by pitching their idea, designing it on paper, simulating it on a computer and then building the robot, according to Dr. A. Antonio Arroyo, who teaches the class in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The purpose of the event, which has been held since 1994, is to give students an opportunity to show off their work and get an incentive to talk to companies and market their state-of-the-art robots.
All of the robots shown have real-life applications, Arroyo added.
For his class project, Jacob Easterling created “Team Clean Sweep.”
Easterling, an electrical engineering senior, said he enrolled in the class to become more marketable to companies and add this accomplishment to his resume.
In “Team Clean Sweep,” two robots, Seekerbot and Debrisbot, communicate with sound to sweep small targets off of a mat. All Easterling does is tell the robots when to start.
Some, like Easterling, build their robots solely for class. Others enter their robots into competitions. At the event was the PropaGator, built by seven students that won the RoboBoat competition in 2013 and received second place in 2014.
Gio De La Torre took a lighthearted approach to his design, naming it “Mr. 32 Bits.”
Mr. 32 Bits responds to frequencies emitted by a speaker held by De La Torre.
It was designed to wander around at football games and do an action to celebrate when a sound is played after a touchdown or field goal is scored.
Arroyo said he continues to be impressed by the quality of the robots the students produce.
“Engineers are judged by producing pudding,” he said. “And here, the proof is in the pudding.”