We've just returned from Pittsburgh, PA, where the Campbell Institute, in partnership with Industrial Scientific and Carnegie Mellon University, held its second annual Robotics for Life Competition. And a competition it certainly was! 13 student teams, comprised of undergraduate mechanical and electrical engineers, went head-to-head to design a robot capable of entering and traversing a confined space while identifying defects on its surface.
All 13 teams performed admirably, using creative designs to meet this challenge. Student robots varied widely in type and approach, from closed-component robots capable of performing confined space inspection while fully submersed to robots utilizing tank-style treads to more easily traverse a cylindrical object such as a containment vessel or pipeline. Yet all teams understood the main objective - to consistently, accurately, and quickly identify potential "problem areas" of the surface that might signal corrosion or other defects (represented in the competition by colored areas affixed to the steel test surface).
In the end, the winning team was not only 100% accurate in their identification of defects, but completed inspect of a 3' x 3' surface in under 90 seconds! Congratulations to Carnegie Mellon Students Weikun Zei, Yuanfeng Han, Erica Hansen, and Zhiqi Xu! We look forward to welcoming our winners to the NSC Congress & Expo this September in San Diego, where they will have the opportunity to demo the robot in front of thousands of attendees!