Oct 13, 2015 | By Alec

Design competitions are usually the best place to find interesting, beautiful, clever or very complicated 3D printing projects, and it looks like the Teacher’s Pet Students’ Robotics Challenge by Element14, Mathworks and Adafruit was no different. First place winner is upper/middle school teacher Kit Fuderich, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and his 3D printed, motor controlled rice crispy loading robot is one of the most remarkable home-made robots we’ve ever seen. It’s also the first that could be a fantastic addition to any breakfast table.

To explain, the challenge was aimed to encourage teachers and their students to engage more in robotics, and were able to use products from element14, Raspberry Pi and Adafruit to do so – all participants were provided with an excellent kit for either the Arduino or the Raspberry Pi 2 and access to complex programming options from Mathworks, including MATLAB and Simulink. In short, all the materials were there for some interesting builds, but the Rice Crispy roboy was the clear winner, according to Adafruit’s Becky Stern. ‘Kit had a great combination of elements and a fun end result showcasing many educational elements of the kit. Kit went above and beyond with multiple interacting systems, and his final project is quite impressive,’ she says.

And who wouldn’t agree? The Rice Crispy loading robot is essentially a robotic arm on wheels, powered by four servo motors and an Arduino Due. As you can see in the clip below, it is capable of driving up to a container with Rice Crispies and carry a load to your bowl. While it might not be the quickest way to have breakfast, it is definitely the most fun option there is.

As the designer explains, it was quite a complex project to work on, and resulted from a summer project for the "Teacher's pet- educators road test." The arm can be controlled either with the push of a remote button, or by applying pressure on a sensor, and the autonomous cereal dispensing process begins. ‘My device can be described in parts: the base, arm, hand, finger.The relation between these part's timing is how the robotic arm achieves a grabbing motion towards rice krispies,’ teacher Kit explains. ‘In fact, each part of the arm is timed differently going downwards to pick up the rice krispies than the sequence back up in order to stay out of the path of a moving, line following robot.’

What’s more, Kit has also shared the completed model and code through his project page. If you happen to have MATLAB/SIMULINK, you can download the model here. Most of what you can see in the photos and the clip, even the white bowl, was 3D printed on a Printerbot Makers Edition, which Kit incidentally had a lot of problems with (especially models coming loose from the printing bed).

It was enough to win the challenge, for which the Lancaster Country Day School, where Kit is employed, was awarded a CEL Robox 3D printer (valued at $1,100). Kit and the robot, meanwhile, are bringing 3Dprinting fun to classrooms already. ‘ I have already employed the robotic arm during school ice breaker activities because nothing opens people up to discussion like a robot. Also, I have used the arm for my 3D printing class when I showed students how I made mechanical parts with Sketchup,’ he says. Plans are already underway to build similar robots with students this year, enabling them to get to grips with the basics of design, 3D printing and engineering. Exactly as intended.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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