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Hopkins students teach robots to explore, collaborate, and suture

May 28, 2019
Robot racer

Image: Will Kirk / Homewood Photography

In the “Robotorium” in Johns Hopkins University’s Hackerman Hall, the robot revolution has officially begun. On a recent afternoon, robots zipped through hallways, navigated obstacle courses, and even solved jigsaw puzzles.

These activities were part of engineering students’ demonstration of robotics projects they conducted for their graduate-level Robot Systems Programming course, offered by the Whiting School of Engineering. Each year, students must teach a robot a set of new skills for the course’s capstone project. Working in small teams, they can select from a variety of platforms—robotic arms, underwater and aerial drones, electric cars—but they must build a full-scale robotics system that can perform at least two tasks, one of which must be done autonomously.

Inspired by real-world problems, this year’s cohort designed robots that can be used in a variety of applications—a list that just keeps growing with each class.

“Our students have already studied advanced mathematics, modeling, algorithms, and programming for robotics. But for most, this is the first time they are challenged to conceive of and develop a full-scale robotic system from the ground up, developing their own original software and hardware and utilizing a vast ecosystem of open-source hardware and software,” said Louis Whitcomb, professor of mechanical engineering and computer science, who created and taught the class this year, along with teaching assistants Chia-Hung Lin, Gabe Bariban, and Han Shi.

Visit The Hub for a glimpse of what Hopkins engineers are creating at the cutting edge of robotics >>

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