Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Diverse Humans Create Diverse Robots

By Amanda DeCanio

This July, I had the honor of leading UF’s ASABE Robotics Team to the Annual International Meeting (AIM) in Orlando, Florida. I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of my team’s most telling moments thanks to this experience.

In the lead: Amanda DeCanio
The Task Before Us
For 2016, student teams were tasked with designing two autonomous prototype citrus harvesting robots. The overall goal was to collect, sort, transfer, and deposit orange and green ping pong balls, representing healthy and unhealthy oranges.

A mild-mannered part, but crucial to the process

The robot field of battle...and harvest 
Through this process our team collaborated on a design concept, came together for practices and team meetings, trusted each other's skills, and fanned each other’s desire to learn. I really enjoyed working with each member of my team and I am still smiling with the performance we showed and sportsmanship we demonstrated in those short two days of competition.

UF ABE's ASABE Robotics Team 2016
Eduardo Carrascal, Hao Gan, Akram Gholami, and Thiago Onofre were dedicated, passionate, and enthusiastic on a subject none of us specifically had much practice in. It was refreshing to work alongside such a diverse group of individuals and exciting to learn about each of their interests and backgrounds. We came together as a unit, played on each other's strengths, and closed the gaps on each other’s weaknesses.

Start Tinkering
Robots are unpredictably cool! If you have never played with robot parts, like an Arduino or a breadboard, pick some up and challenge yourself to make a motor spin. The first moment I ran a full circuit and made a motor start and stop under my command, more than just the gears clicked: I felt in control. I felt I had the power to command motion and robotic decision even though I knew my motor could not “think” on its own accord.

Harvest ready robots
A warm thank you to Dr. Ali Pourreza, Dr. Daniel Lee, and the UF ABE department; for believing in our shared goal and for pushing us out of our comfort zone to risks that in effect improved our overall experience.

As humans, our originality can be considered one of our greatest strengths; robots, on the other hand, can be mass-produced. Therefore, in the advancement of robotic technological design, we have a responsibility to maintain that creativity and boldness we innately possess. 

Relive the 2016 ASABE AIM Robotics Design Student Competition
(An ASABE & IrriGator collaborative production)