Students create walking robots, featured on local news

6/9/2016 7:58:14 AM

For the final project in Mechanical Design I (ME 370) in the Spring 2016 semester, students formed teams and built all-terrain “walkers,” in a nod to the giant mechanical war machines featured in the film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

“The Rebel Alliance needs you to design new all-terrain walker vehicles to help in our fight against the First Order,” read the assignment’s “debriefing” statement. “To come up with new prototypes that will be optimized for many different planets with different gravity and habitats, we need you to draw biomimetic (and xenobiomimetic) design. Design vehicles that borrow from nature to skitter like a crab, hop like a frog, walk like a bird, crawl like a lizard, trot like a horse, or trellaumph like an Andorian Kryshyk.”

The objective was to design, prototype, and test walkers that could rapidly negotiate rough terrain on the Bardeen Quad—essentially sidewalks and thick grass. Click here to view clips of the winning walking robot designs.

In May, the local news station aired a report on the course.

The ME 370 course is part of an effort to introduce a hands-on design project into each year of the MechSE curriculum. Funding for the course is provided by a grant from the campus Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education's Strategic Instructional Innovations Program. MechSE faculty Sameh Tawfick and Hae Won Park are teaching the course along with van der Zande.