Robotic Renaissance: Past, Present, and Future  of Bio Based Robotics

  Robofest 2013  

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Lighthouse Robotics - Robotics Renaissance & Renaissance Robots - Our Story

We are Lighthouse Robotics. 


Our motto is Light Conquers Darkness.  


(We like this motto as it symbolizes many things including the power of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance).


Our six member team consists of:

Sofia - grade 5, John - grade 5, Jakob - grade 6, Elias - grade 7, Alex - grade 7, and Tyler - grade 8.  




We are a group of eclectic and multi-talented kids with interests in music, art, theatre, writing, history, science, math, engineering, sports, and last but not least robotics. We are Renaissance kids. We like robotics because it is one of the few fields that combines so many other disciplines and allows so much creativity and thought and imaginationThis is a kid led project and all robots have been built by and all robot programs have been developed  by us the kids.


Our coach, Mrs. Marylee, is a former NASA software engineer and now stay at home Mother and part time science and history teacher  at a small non-profit. Based upon what she knows and has read, she believes that robotics usage will increase by 3000% in just the next 10 years alone. She wants to do her small part to help us kids be better prepared for STEM jobs and the future. Our parent coaches are Jennifer, Saniata, Susie, Michele, and Tammy


This year we wanted to do a Robofest Fashion and Dance Competition with robots. Using two of our own and two of Mrs. Owens NXT robots, we looked at a lot of themes this year for our robotics show. We thought about Blue Man group, Wall-E, and so much more. We finally settled on How to Train a Dragon as a theme with a medieval princess, knight and dragons. All the team members were excited about this theme!


As part of our project of researching a theme and just getting excited about the Robotics field in general, we had looked at a lot of current and past humanoid and animal based robot videos and articles - both real world and NXT based.


So when we were faced suddenly with making an Expo research project VS just a Robo Fashion and Dance project  when the Robofest rules changed and RFD was eliminated in December, we looked back upon our previous work and research and decided that we could just expand our theme to include Bio Based Robotics Past, Present, and Future. And so we renamed our show and exhibit to “Renaissance Robots” and “Robotics Renaissance” vs our original “Medieval Mindstorms”.


Our show then became our demonstration of what we studied and researched as well as a real entertainment application and a Living Performing Arts Demonstration of Bio Based Robotic Kinetics.


As part of our research science Expo project, we have studied current robots and how they are based upon and can be improved upon by using human and animal based life for development of locomotion, senses, computing / thinking, etc. We learned this is called Biomimetics and the study of the animal locomotion and movements or kinetics is a whole science in itself called kemetics.


We looked at Da Vinci's "robotic" Knight and Lion automatons based upon humans and animals. We have read and wrote some research focus papers for our our project and board about current humanoid robots and zoobotcs in the lab and on the market and their many current and future applications of bio based robotics including medicine, military, entertainment, space exploration, etc.


We have also studied the particular kinetics of humanoid and animal based robots that we have built and measured and timed their movements.


Though we have only four final robot models, we built 3 other robots that we opted to not use. We built two other dragons and we built one other humanoid robot that we tested and voted upon as a team to scrap. One was a climbing bat like robot that we felt was too slow and another was a komodo dragon that had limited maneuverability and motion (also lacked a working jaw with teeth).  We also had tons of issues with dragon suspension and it took several iterations to get a suspension that was stable and wouldn’t drop the robot (other team members helped this team by holding up the suspension by hand when necessary for testing until this was stabilized).


The humanoid robot that was scraped was an earlier NXT version robot. It was extremely complicated to program to walk (Mom and daughter both had to learn about syncing and toddler walking algorithms that are even studied by university students just to make it walk!) and most importantly it was not consistent in its performance.  Sofia decided that instead of scraping the model entirely for the princess, she would use the “old” torso (trunk, arms, and head) and she literally “pulled this off” by removing the old legs and adding the new legs and modifying the programming.


The knight had some challenges too as the team worked on making it “walk the line”. They have developed their own program that follows a line using several sensors…


Of the robots we did build and keep (our coach really wanted us to keep our bat like robot but we over ruled her), we have also made many mods beyond their original designs and have programmed them to do things beyond anything we could find out of the box or in any book…

For our demo show, we were able to push some of our robots to do more than anyone, including coach, anticipated. In other cases, we had to reduce hers and our expectations and do less than anticipated. In all cases we only did what we were comfortable doing and had volunteered to do both in building, programming, and research.


We have enjoyed building and programming our robots and are proud of what we have accomplished with our bi-pedal and winged / land dragons and what we have learned about their kinetics which is beyond just dressing up a basic wheeled car model.


We have also enjoyed the many creative opportunities in developing the show plot, of creating many artistic props such as the cave, the castle, and the trees, choosing the human team member costumes, creating the t-shirt and team motto, helping to make or pick out costumes and accessories for the robots, creating the team website, making the expo boards, picking out music, picking colors and designs and layouts for the expo boards, table clothes, etc.


We hope you enjoy our demo Show and Expo Project. We have enjoyed creating it.


We hope it will inspire and educate someone else to want to learn robotics too