Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 30, 2012

BSC students to team with WVU to build robot

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Local college students who are currently working on their own autonomous robot will assist West Virginia University students in creating another robot in 2014 that will compete before NASA officials.

Bluefield State College students are now building a robot that will compete in 2013 during the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, said Dr. Robert Riggins, Ph.D., of the School of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science.

The competition will take place June 7-10, 2013 at Oakland University in Rochester, N.Y. Competing robots will attempt to navigate obstacle courses without human guidance.

During the summer of 2014, BSC students will share their experience with robots and help their fellow students at WVU build a robot that can do similar work, Riggins said.

“We’re going to jump on board and help them make it autonomous,” he said. “They’re making a robot that could theoretically rove around the moon.”

Robot rovers are currently exploring the planet Mars. The WVU team will be competing in the second consecutive Robo-Ops competition at NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s Rock Yard in Houston, according to the Associated Press.

Each team will receive a $10,000 stipend to help pay the cost of materials, testing equipment, hardware and software necessary to build a Mars rover, according to the Associated Press.

Rovers will compete under the supervision of NASA judges. Each rover will be required to navigate obstacles and accomplish a variety of tasks.

Bluefield State’s students build award-winning robots from various parts. The robots look “very homemade,” Riggins said. In contrast, the WVU students design their robots and turn to local industries to fabricate parts that give the robots good quality.

“They have a very nice-looking robot,” Riggins said. “We would be more involved in the software – writing the code to make it work – and the sensors.”

“And I think we’ve got a really good project,” he added about the BSC robot now under construction. Working on a robot for the June 2013 competition will give the students more experience that they can apply when the time for the collaboration with WVU arrives in the summer of 2014.