|November 16, 2005|
For ME class, 'Robodarts' is all about accuracy
A Robodarts team led by Bridget Austin '07 readies for the next throw
Darts, a pub game sometimes played with beverage in hand, might look simple enough.
But try building a robot that can hit a bulls-eye. Or the dartboard, for that matter.
Welcome to Prof. Bill Keat's "Dynamics and Kinematics," a mechanical engineering class in which students designed, built and operated dart-throwing robots for their final projects.
Dart meets dartboard
Keat asked the students to design a machine that can outperform an opponent (human or other) in a game of darts. Three teams of students built machines that competed against each other, and against Stan Gorksi, technology coordinator, who was asked to throw left-handed.
The machines, perhaps not much of a threat to accomplished players, were exciting to watch as long arms lofted darts to the front of the room. Nearly every dart hit the board, but advancing in a game of "Around the Clock" proved difficult. Nonetheless, enthusiasm ran high in Robodarts, and teams erupted in loud cheers whenever they nailed a small slice of the board.
The human competitor -- Stan Gorski
"In darts, it's all about accuracy," said Keat. "This forces the students to think about how the errors accumulate."
For one team captain, Bridget Austin '07, an ME major from Skaneateles, N.Y., it was a good learning experience. "No matter how hard you try, there's always something that can go wrong."
A team led by Mark Angeloni '07, an ME from Belchertown, Mass., had a futile first round but regrouped to get to three in the second. The secret? The springs needed stretching after the machine overthrew in the first round. "We overcame a lot of obstacles," Angeloni said.