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Robot Block Party this Weekend

Robotics experts to demonstrate their creations at Museum of Science and Industry

Six Northwestern University robotics experts and their students -- including students from Northwestern’s new Master of Science in Robotics program -- will demonstrate some of their cutting-edge robots as part of a National Robotics Week program (April 4 to 12) at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI).

Kevin LynchThe Northwestern robots will put on a show most of Friday, April 10, and all day Saturday, April 11. Undergraduate and graduate students will be on hand to explain the “behind the scenes” of robotics, and several experts will give short presentations of their work Saturday.

“Robotics is one of the best ways to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” Kevin Lynch said. “Children already are interested in robots natively, and there are so many different fields that are motivated by trying to solve robotics problems.”

Lynch is a professor of mechanical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. His McCormick colleagues Brenna Argall, Mitra Hartmann, Todd Murphey, Jarvis Schultz and Paul Umbanhowar also are involved in the MSI program.

Visitors to the museum will be able to meet these Northwestern creations, among others, in the Rotunda, in the heart of the museum:

• A small humanoid robot that will demonstrate various capabilities, such as kicking a ball. This fairly unsophisticated robot illustrates the difficulty of mimicking the ease with which a person walks.

• A haptic interface that enables the user to feel virtual objects on a computer.

• A programmable motion table that controls the motion of objects sitting on top of it by vibration.

• The Rethink Robotics Baxter dual-arm robot and the KUKA Robotics youBot mobile manipulator. Both will be demonstrated by Master of Science in Robotics students.

Students from the research groups will explain the intricacies of robotics -- design, programming, mathematics, electronics, mechanics and physics -- at the April 10 and 11 demos.

Learn more about the Museum of Science and Industry program.