Tag Archives: Automated Systems & Robotics

Dunwoody teams win Third and Fifth at 7th Annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Dunwoody teams also received the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Best Sportsmanship Award

Autonomous_Snowplow_Competition_2017

Dunwoody College of Technology recently competed in the Institute of Navigation (ION)’s Autonomous Snowplow Competition held during the St. Paul Winter Carnival in Rice Park January 26-29. The College entered two robotic snowplows–the Snow Devil and the Wendigo.

The Snow Devils earned fifth place and a $700 prize, while Team Wendigo placed third, earning a $2000 prize and the Bronze Snow Globe Award.

The College, as a whole, also brought home a $500 prize for the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Golden Smile Award for best sportsmanship. The Award is named after University of Michigan-Dearborn professor Dr. Narasimhamurthi Natarajan (often called “Nattu”) who was known for his quick, insightful analysis followed by a joke and a smile.

Nattu passed away from a lung illness on the Saturday morning of the 2016 competition while his two teams were competing. ION renamed its team sportsmanship award in honor of his leadership.

This year, thirteen teams from the top engineering universities in the Upper Midwest participated. Dunwoody is one of just two schools that have been competing in the annual event since it first began in 2011. The College has since taken home several awards, including a third place prize in 2016.

Dunwoody adds new robot to roster

This year, Dunwoody decided to try something new by adding a second robot to its snowplow roster.

“With the new engineering programs coming online, we had a lot of interest from our Mechanical Engineering students,” Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle said. “We always have interest from our Automated Systems & Robotics students. We even had a welder interested in it this year. So we had a lot more interest up front.”

From To to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

From To to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

 The Snow Devil was built to compete in the first year of the competition. Since then, students have refined and added to this original design. The robot functions by following magnetic strips that can be installed on any sidewalk or driveway.

The new Wendigo machine was created to complement the Snow Devil.

“When I found out they were letting us build a whole new robot, I thought, okay, we need to make this separate from the Snow Devil,” Automated Systems & Robotics student William Hiniker said. “Wendigo sounded cool and scary, so we went with Wendigo. Hopefully, you know, people see it move snow and they say, ‘wow that looks cool’”

The Wendigo uses a combination of a machine vision system and an inertial measurement unit to navigate up and down sidewalks and driveways.

The teams presented their designs to a panel of judges on Thursday evening at the Minnesota Science Museum. After safety checks on Friday night, the teams competed on the sidewalk-clearing course on Saturday and then took on the driveway course on Sunday.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s School of Engineering and Robotics & Manufacturing Department.

Hands-on with robotic arms

Student project entitled Bad Escape Artist, spells out "LET ME OUT" with a dry erase marker. Second-year Automated Systems & Robotics students were recently tasked with a simple assignment: to design an industrial robot program for any application of their choosing.

According to Instructor Joey White, the only requirement was that “they needed to demonstrate the use of position registers, the offset motion option along with math instructions to make sequential moves in a specific pattern based on a minimum number of taught reference points.”

A hands-on project gives real-world experience

In addition to programming the robot, the students also used SolidWorks to design the tooling at the end of the robotic arm and later brought their tools to life using the College’s Stratasys 3D printers.

This approach to the project exposed students to the full process of putting together a packaging system from start to finish — finding solutions to problems from the very first stage of production.

“I’ve learned a lot more about the automated packaging systems and how they can be utilized in so many ways,” said second-year Automated Systems & Robotics student Dallas Stewart. “It’s crazy the amount of opportunity there is in this field.”

One robot, many applications

With the guidelines in mind, the students paired up and got to work in Dunwoody’s FANUC-certified robotics lab — designing an array of robotic programs.

  • Spiral Supreme, designed by Mark Reznikov and Jesse Theis: this program is designed to pick up and drop metal balls down a spiral chute.
  • Bad Escape Artist, designed by Dallas Stewart and Steve Thulien: this program was designed to write “LET ME OUT” with a dry-erase marker and then erase it.
  • Robot Piano, designed by James Olson and Will Snyder: designed to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the piano.
  • Auto Butler, designed by Kim Wieting and Mike Prudhon: designed to serve glass bottles.

“What I really enjoy most about this class is actually being able to program the PLC’s and the robots rather than just talking about it in theory,” Stewart said.

Visit Dunwoody’s Automated Systems & Robotics program web page for more information or contact Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle at edaigle@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody’s Snowplow earns third place in 2016 Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionDunwoody College’s Snow Devil 01102 Snowplow earned third place—and a $2,000 prize—at the 6th annual Institute of Navigation (ION) Autonomous Snowplow Competition held January 28-31 during the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. The team also won the $500 Professor Nattu Sportsmanship Award for the second year in a row.

Dunwoody’s 2016 team—coached by faculty members E.J. Daigle, John McShannock and Alex Wong— included Electronics Engineering Technology students Alan Stafford, Matt Herrick, and Andy Haug; and Automated Systems & Robotics students Ryan Dailey and Dustin Forcier.

Competition aligns with Dunwoody’s approach to education

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionAccording to the ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition website: “The purpose of this competition is to challenge university and college students as well as the general public, to design, build, and operate a fully autonomous snowplow to remove snow from a designated path.”

This year, eleven teams from the top engineering universities in the Upper Midwest and Canada participated. Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing Department is one of just two teams that have been competing in the annual event since it first began in 2011. The College has since taken home several awards, including a third place prize in 2015.

“The competition provides great credit to the application-based engineering culture here at Dunwoody,” Daigle said. “Especially as we prepare to launch new engineering programs over the next 5 years.”

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionThe team’s knowledge and experience with the competition appeared to be evident to other teams as well. Daigle said that at one point during the competition, a team announced they were going to quit due to technical difficulties when another team suggested they, “find the Dunwoody guys–they can fix anything.”

Daigle said that the cooperative competition displayed by his team was one of the best parts of this year’s contest.

Final results:

1st place: University of Michigan “Yeti 6.0”

2nd place: Case Western Reserve University “Otto X”

3rd place: Dunwoody College of Technology “Snow Devil 01102

4th place: University of Michigan “Zenith 2.1”

5th place: Case Western Reserve University “Snow Joke”

6th place: North Dakota State University “Thundar 2.0”

7th place: University of St. Thomas “John Snow”

8th place: University of Minnesota “Ground Squirrel”

9th place: University of British Columbia “Snow Flake”

10th place: North Dakota State University “Snow Blight”

11th place: Bemidji State University “BeaverBot”