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Education Robotics

Undergrad-built Robots Play "Operation" 33

jnakane writes "UBC Engineering Physics students pit prototype operation robots against each other for prizes and bragging rights in the 7th Annual Robot Competition. Offering solutions to handle delicate body parts on a 6-foot long version of the playing surface resembling the board game "Operation" (including the "shock" buzzer), the second-year students designed and built autonomous surgical robots to remove body organs reliably and quickly (well, most of the time). You can also see video footage."
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Undergrad-built Robots Play "Operation"

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  • So? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sunburnt ( 890890 ) * on Sunday September 16, 2007 @10:38AM (#20625381)

    Everyone knows the game is only fun when played as "strip Operation" with a group of drunk college students. Who the hell wants to see robots naked?

    (...he says, kicking a nearby Sorayama book under the couch.)

    • Funny how all us sad geeks on slashdot understand certain Japanese words that pertain to robot porn.

      I have to admit I knew what sorayama meant without resorting to googling it.
  • Figures... (Score:5, Funny)

    by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @10:57AM (#20625485)

    A bunch of geeks build a robot to "play doctor" instead of doing it themselves. When will it end?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dkf ( 304284 )

      A bunch of geeks build a robot to "play doctor" instead of doing it themselves. When will it end?
      At least you know none of them are "playing doctors and nurses"...
  • 6 weeks ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c_fel ( 927677 ) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @11:01AM (#20625513) Homepage
    I teach in an engineering school and I must say that 6 weeks to design, build and program that kind of robot is really short. They must be very, very good because this is a great challenge.

    Congratulations to all of you guys ! :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      At Cambridge University us Undergraduate engineers do a similar robotics project in 4 weeks on top of normal lectures. It's manic, but do-able. (Teams of 6 students) See: [] Of course, the project is run twice a term so all of the computing equipment and hardware you might need to build the robot is readily to hand - that makes a world of difference to speeding up development.
      • Well, our robotics course was on top of normal lectures, and after only 3 terms of university at that. The amount of knowledge they shoved into us through that course I found to be phenomenal, and an incredible experience.

        ~Dr. Claw Team Member
    • There are lego mindstorms people out there who solve more involved problems every other week.
  • by newsdee ( 629448 ) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @11:03AM (#20625529) Homepage Journal
    I don't mean to belittle the efforts that went into building these, but I was a bit disappointed to see that it was not the real "Operation" game but some big table with big holes in it. The robots use some type of magnet to pick up metallic objects instead of tweezers to pick up small plastic things. The holes are also big squares instead of the squiggly holes that make the original interesting.

    Of course, making an autonomous robot that plays the real thing would be an order of magnitude harder. Hopefully some of the contestants had so much fun they'll go on to try to create that sometime in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fbjon ( 692006 )
      Hah, call me when they make a robot that can play through the last levels of Trauma Center: Under the knife.

      Hint: requires at least 5 limbs capable of gripping a stylus.

  • Kinda weak on the names....however I did like the Robot named "Dr. Claw"

    What about these fine options:

    The Organ Extracting Robotic Overlord
    Does it Run Linux?
    Cowboy Steel

  • by jparp ( 316662 ) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @11:12AM (#20625597)
    I happened to be visiting UBC when this was going on, and my roommate in the residence had a robot in the competition... so I went to go check it out.

    Of course robotics engineering is not as difficult as it used to be, with better COTS sensors, affordable fab tools, an expanding open source robotics community, and of course Moore's Law...

    Regardless, it was really incredible to see what _second_ year students are capable of these days. Also, lots of credit should go to the ambitious profs who have been organizing the course for the past few years.
  • Artificial Shock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @11:48AM (#20625879) Homepage Journal
    These robots will be really interesting when they can simulate in themselves the feeling of recoiling in shock and horror when a long run of successful extractions suddenly ends when they touch their instrument to patient, and that damn buzzer goes off. And it hands the tweezers to its bratty little sister for her easy win.
  • Ohio State also has a program (I was a student in '98) that uses the same controller with the same idea. Teams of 3-4 students get roughly 8 weeks to build and it also ends in a competition (with now over 50 teams). Design project page here []. Video of this past year's competition [] or search youtube for "FEH robot" to find more.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    UBC Electrical & Computer Engineering 474 used to have student robot competitions back in the 1998-2000 timeframe. They had autonomous maze mapping robot and treasure hunt competitions with a Motorola HC11 brain. The current project is at []. Previous ones at [].
  • This has been in my head all day because of this article. []
  • When I was little, I took the stupid game, ripped the nose off and threw it across the room. I wasn't a violent kid, but the buzzer reached deep down into my lizard brain and triggered something unpleasant and primal.

    Now if you can build a robot to not only play the game but get insanely pissed off when it buzzes, then you're making progress.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington