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OSU Students Play Shuffleboard with Robots

By Heather Turner


CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Some of us enjoy playing a little game of shuffleboard, but you've probably never imagined playing that game against a robot.


But now, a new competitor has stepped up to the table.


Get ready, aim, fire!


Or, in this case, just click your mouse to start the game, and the rest is up to the robots.


"We start the game and then they shoot off four pucks, they have a camera that reads in what the game board looks like and then tries to make a smart decision," said Cyrus Heick.


It's part of a shuffleboard tournament, and a final grade for students in an applied robotics class at OSU.


"It's been really fun to watch it do what it's programmed to do and built to do," said Heather Reinhart.


"It's kind of like your baby I guess, you go out there and you're proud of it and you just sit back and see what it's going to do," said Heick.


Each team had ten weeks to design and build their own robots, and then teach them how to play.


"The circle in the middle is worth four points, and then outside of that is three, and then two and then one, so it's a little bit different that we're playing towards the middle instead of the opposite end of the board," said Reinhart.


But it wasn't easy, the groups had to put their heads together, combining different engineering challenges.


"All of the mechanical engineers have to end up learning a lot about the electrical and the software, and all the software people have to learn a lot about the design and the mechanical side," said Jonathan Hurst, OSU Applied Robotics co-instructor.


To give their robots computer-aided vision to see where they want to shoot the puck, and have the mechanical ability to follow through.


"The hardest part of the robot is actually the programming of the software, and all of the electrical components.  But I'm a mechanical engineer, so building all the stuff and bringing it down to the shop and making parts and things is easy for me," said Reinhart.


"Lately, it's been a lot of late nights, we we're in the lab until about 6 o'clock in the morning this morning, got about two hours of sleep so it's been tough but right now it's pretty rewarding," said Heick.


And after a successful day, some say they might show off their robot's skills outside the classroom.


"We've talked about going over to the Peacock and bringing our robot and trying to hussle some people out there," said Heick.