Dusty 2.0 Sweeps Honors in Orlando Robotics Competition

Dusty 2.0 pic

Dusty 2.0
Image: news.siu.edu

A lifelong learner and proponent of science, Valerie Varnuska resides in Westbury, NY. Her varied interests include mechanical inventions, and especially robotics. Accordingly, Valerie Varnuska enjoys following robotics competitions and learning about the newest robots humankind has developed.

A small, unassuming robot known as Dusty 2.0 recently made quite the stir at the national robotics competition of The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering in Orlando. Built by a team from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Dusty 2.0 won more than half of the points available in the entire competition.

In the competition, robots were expected to complete complex tasks both with and without human assistance. Dusty 2.0 performed exceptionally well in the head-to-head competition and also excelled in a challenge that required it to retrieve small puzzle pieces. Dusty’s team took first place across the board, winning audience favorite, best technical presentation, best poster, best electronic control methodology, and best fabrication.

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Three of 2016’s Best New Inventions

Wynd pic

Wynd
Image: hellowynd.com

Westbury, NY, resident Valerie Varnuska spends much of her time learning about science and technology. Valerie Varnuska is particularly interested in the mechanical marvels that humans create and enjoys reading up on new inventions.

Each year, TIME compiles a list of the 25 greatest new inventions humankind has produced. They represent the best new science and the greatest problem solving that human ingenuity has to offer. Three such marvels are discussed below.

1. Wynd, the affordable personal air purifier. No larger than a water bottle, this portable purifier removes pollutants from the air in a small area. It creates a small pocket of clean air and can even eliminate pollutants that contribute to cancer and other maladies.

2. The UNICEF Kid Power Band. This stylish step-counting bracelet encourages children to remain active and meet specific fitness goals. Kids earn points when they meet their fitness goals, then use those points to send food packages to children in need around the world. So far, users have logged 7 million miles, allowing them to feed more than 30,000 malnourished children.

3. IKO, the prosthetic device that doubles as a toy. Fully functional as a utilitarian device, this high-quality prosthetic arm is also compatible with Lego and Mindstorm products. Children can remove the hand module and replace it with toys or mobility devices of their own, all powered by the prosthetic base unit.

New NASA Robotics Competition

The Space Robotics Challenge pic

The Space Robotics Challenge
Image: nasa.gov

Valerie Varnuska resides in Westbury, NY, where she spends much of her time learning about science, technology, and the natural world. In recent years, Valerie Varnuska has developed an interest in robotics, especially robotics competitions.

In summer of 2016, NASA teamed up with Space Center Houston to create a new robotics competition. The Space Robotics Challenge, offering a $1 million prize, invites roboticists from all over the world to build humanoid robots to help humanity reach Mars.

Competing teams must program highly dexterous virtual robots, which will be expected to complete a specific series of tasks. In their virtual test, robots will be faced with a damaged colony following a dust storm. They will need to align a communications dish, fix a solar array, and patch a leak on the virtual colony. A latency period is crucial to their programming, representing the communication delay between Earth and Mars.

Practice rounds will run through June 2017, when the final competition begins. NASA and allied partners hope that the ideas presented will help them in their goal of bringing both robotic tools and human beings to Mars in the future.