Students at Bluefield State University build the future

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:53 PM EDT
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Jacob Clarkson, Engineering Lab Specialist at BSU: “A lot of the robotics programs we do, is completely built by students.”

On the campus of Bluefield State University, lies Dickason Hall, where aspiring roboticists are building the future.

By applying skills in all fields of engineering, they build mechanical constructs that can move and think on their own

One such robot, Valkyrie, was built from scratch.

While it can move on its own, it can also be operated using a controller that was *built* by re-purposing a Nintendo Wii controller.

Jacob says “We could either 3d print and build this from scratch, or we, we needed a system with two buttons and a joystick.”

Potential real life applications of Valkyrie, would include transporting tools.

There are even robots similar to Valkyrie here locally, including at the Golden Corral in Beckley.

They help with tasks like delivering food and helping clean up after dinner is done.

They function through the use of built in hardware such as lidar

Christopher Buckner, a graduate from BSU, says “It has vision software to detect solid white lines and obstacles avoidance. And it’s got gps software in it, so it can navigate with the absence of objects and hit way points.”

Other robots such as this robotic arm, are used to assemble machinery, which help prevent harm to the body.

Christopher says “They range anywhere from small arms that will handle delicate parcels, about 10 pounds, to big machines that will move a semi frame.”

Robotics students also apply computer science skills to program the robots to sword fight.

Chandler Sowers, a senior at BSU explains “Each black square is an individual move and then everything in between is a wait command, which tells it to wait until a certain timer is hit, then it goes to the next set of moves.”

“The hardest part is timing everything, because the two robots don’t communicate with each other, so you have to be in sync with the other robot.”

And then there’s Astro, the robot dog.

He’s mainly used as a learning tool, where students can practice their applied skills.