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Robots in Education

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six-legged robot

The six-legged robot developed by Nanyang Polytechnic, Schmid Engineering, and Analog Devices can move in any direction and squeeze into small places.

Credit: National Instruments

Robots are increasingly becoming ubiquitous in education. The Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million contest to design a robot capable of traveling to the moon, has inspired the X Prize Foundation to team with Google, Lego Systems, and National Instruments on MoonBots. The winner of the Google Lunar X prize can send his or her robot to the moon to gather information, photographs, and video footage to send back to Earth. In the MoonBots program, children can assemble robots that imitate the same tasks using a Lego Mindstorm kit.

The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering has a Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (Scope) that asks students to work on a large engineering project that simulates the kind of problems they would tackle in the corporate world. Vision Robotics Corp. has asked the Scope group to help it design fruit-picking robots. The first robot finds the fruit, and the second picks it. The team of seniors designed an end effector that can select the fruit, and the device has been added to a working model of the fruit-picker.

Researchers from Nanyang Polytechnic, Schmid Engineering, and Analog Devices — from Singapore, Switzerland, and the U.S., respectively — have put together a spider robot that can crawl into small places and across difficult surfaces. Equipped with six legs, the robot can move in any direction, either slowly with all six of its limbs or more quickly with just three. Scope director David Barrett says that robots are the new groundbreaking technology, in use today "in the military, in industries and the consumer level."

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