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Newsletter October 2016: IARC 7

RAS is participating in Mission 7 of the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). IARC has been running since 1991 and centers around the concept of missions which can span multiple years. There have been seven missions in total, with each successive mission pushing the boundaries of aerial robotics. See for more information.

Mission 7 began in 2014 and has not yet been solved. Teams are required to develop an autonomous aerial robot capable of directing ground robots through physical interaction. More specifically, 10 iRobot Create 2 differential drive robots move around along a randomly generated path inside an arena. The arena consists of 10m by 10m flat area marked with a grid line pattern. The aerial robot can interact with the ground robots by either blocking its path, forcing it to turn around, or by touching a switch on the top of a ground robot, causing it to...

Newsletter October 2016: Artbot

This past month, Artbot has accomplished as much as it did in an entire semester last year.

We realized that a major area to improve in was leadership and giving members interesting projects. Team members were entrusted with an integral aspect of the panther that they are 100% in charge of. All projects involve a combination of ME, COE, and EE principles. For example, one person was tasked with making the eyes of the panther. This includes CS for the camera’s software, EE for communications with the camera and motor control of eyelids, and the ME design work/fabrication for the eye assembly.

The projects are administered through Trello, a good ‘To Do’ list software. We have multiple boards, split up by the team’s needs. Additionally, we realized we cannot effectively delegate tasks to our members and contribute substantially to the project. Due to these facts, we assigned multiple people as...

Newsletter October 2016: Workshops

As Pitt’s Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) begins to grow, we are beginning to play a more active role in the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). Through this growth a key weakness has been identified in not only RAS, but a majority of project- based clubs throughout SSOE – new, younger, passionate students do not have the technical knowledge to provide significant contributions to advanced projects. Currently attempts are made to teach these students the knowledge necessary to contribute; however, it is extremely difficult to complete a project for a competition when so much background work needs to take place. The lack of strong fundamental knowledge in younger students and lack of time to teach these students often leads these students to slowly drop out of the organization.

In an effort to address this problem, RAS is developing a semester long series of workshops that are aimed to teach the...