A robot created by a Case Western Reserve University engineering professor and several high school students from Hathaway Brown and three other local high schools will "run" in the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure on Saturday, September 13 at 9:15 a.m. at Malls B and C in downtown Cleveland.
The robot, named "Jinks," has been constructed by Cleveland-area high school volunteer interns working with mentor Wyatt Newman, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, over the summer at the Case School of Engineering. The interns were originally comprised of students from Hathaway Brown—senior Lynn Giltinan, juniors Emily Wagner and Caitlin Phillips, and sophomore Caroline Aronoff— but grew to include additional students from Shaker Heights, University School and Beachwood High Schools.
Jinks is built on a powered wheelchair base donated by InvaCare, modified with motor drives, computer controls and sensors using technology from FIRST robotics as well as from DEXTER, the robotic vehicle that students and faculty from the School of Engineering raced in the U.S. Department of Defense's DARPA Urban Challenge in October 2007. TeamCASE and DEXTER finished 12th out of 36 teams in the international competition.
The robot, which the students have declared is a female, has a top speed of 5mph.
At the Race for the Cure, Jinks will follow a lead runner/walker (Lynn, the senior), who will wear a battery-powered beacon on her back, comprised of infrared LEDs (similar to those found in TV remote controls) as Jinks makes her way around part of the 5K course. Jinks looks for this beacon using an electronic camera and adjusts speed and direction to maintain about a two-meter following distance from the leader.
Jinks has an on-board emergency stop, or E-stop, button, as well as a wireless remote E-stop control, which cuts power to the motors if necessary. An additional feature still under construction is audible feedback, which should make Jinks emit "happy" sounds when the leader is within a comfortable range, and "distressed" sounds when the beacon is lost (signaling the leader to return so that Jinks can reacquire the beacon signal).
While Newman and the students still need to iron out some of Jinks' kinks, they are still very proud of their work.
"I'm very proud of what the students have accomplished so far," Newman said. "We expect Jinks to be successful at the Race. But whether she is successful or not, this has been a great learning experience for all of us, especially the students."
All of the Hathaway Brown students who helped to develop Jinks are members of HB's Science Research and Engineering Program. They also were actively involved in the school's FIRST Buckeye Robotics team, created in 2007.
Jinks and its creators were scheduled to be profiled in a special video segment on WKYC-TV (Channel 3) earlier today.
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