This blog post is our 51st post on the Motors and Robots are Fun website. I would like to take a moment to thank all of you for following this blog. It has been a labor of love. When I started this blog the decision was made not to monetize it by having blog ads and I plan on keeping it that way. Now onto the latest blog.
A few years ago our local county extension agent started a 4-H Lego Robotics Club. The club met for a couple of months to learn about robots and to prepare for the District competition. At that time we used the Lego Mindstorms 2.0 kits to make the driving base for the Sumo Bot competition and for the Canyon competition. Our members did very well in both competitions and enjoyed meeting new members from the other counties. Our teams loved getting together and ended up going to the State Fair to compete. After that season was over, our agent got promoted and went to the local university. She was replaced by a new agent who had to learn the ropes and the Lego Robotics club was put on hold.
Well, the Lego Robotics club is back this year and its members are really excited about using Lego’s latest robotics kit, the Lego EV3 system. During our first meeting we reviewed the various learning points of the robotics club, introduced the latest District robotics competition, viewed some examples of real robots like the Lego Mindstorms 2.0 MindCuber robot, the Wowwee MiP (Mobile Inverted Pendulum) self-balancing robot, and the R2D2 toy robot, and then covered the definition of a robot by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).
The RIA defines robot using four main terms. A robot must…
- be programmable. A robot must have instructions that can be changed by the student-operator.
- be automatic. A robot must be able to work by itself.
- be a multi-faceted machine. A robot must be able to do different jobs by changing its parts or changing its program.
- be able to sense its surroundings. A robot must have sensors that provide feedback to the microprocessor.
We used these four parts of the robot definition and decided that a light switch and a washing machine did not fit the robot definition so our members got the idea it is more than a motor, or a machine, or a switch to turn things on and off. Joseph Engelberger, the “Father of Robotics” said, “I can’t define a robot, I just know when I see one.” By the end of this season we expect that each of our 12+ members will be able to do the same. I plan to document our robotics season over the next four months so stay tuned!
Quote for the Day: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin