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Robotics group doesn’t shy away from the digital space

Robotics club is planning to form a robotics football team. Photo via Robotics club.

While its activities were put on pause by the pandemic, the BU Robotics Club has pushed forward with several initiatives.

The club was created shortly before the pandemic took effect, and its president Steven Comandini joined before COVID-19 hampered expansion efforts.

Following the onset of the pandemic, the club held Zoom meetings and a few small in-person meetings.

“The pandemic really messed up the club’s attempt to grow,” Comandini said. “It wasn’t until this semester that the club started to get the ball rolling.”

The club didn’t get the chance to recruit members until fall 2020.

“We’ve been working on assembling and programming different robot kits, including a set of obstacle avoidance robots, line follower robots and sumo robots,” said Colin Watson, vice president of the club.

These kits include every component necessary to build a robot: microcontrollers, sensors, motors, wheels and a robot frame.

“These components come unassembled,” Watson said. “So before we start programming our robots, we first and foremost work on putting together the components.”

At the beginning of the semester, the club had an FIRST FTC robotics team, Binary Bullets, give a presentation about their season. Comandini was an alumnus of FIRST and formerly part of the Binary Bullets.

The presentation touched on the team’s design process for the robot they use in competitions, as well as the struggles they faced during the pandemic.

“Next semester, if we end up having enough members, we have plans to form a full robotic football team and possibly compete in the CRFC [Collegiate Robotics Football Conference] alongside other colleges,” Watson said.

According to the CRFC’s website, the conference started in 2008 and has grown ever since, providing a place where engineering departments from several universities create robots to play football.

Despite the club not having hosted events yet, it does advertise in the engineering newsletter and the general meetings are open to anybody.

A background in robotics is not necessary to join the club, though it is useful. The current club members are in the college of engineering, and they think the club is a potential hobby for people who want to learn and experience real-life and hands-on aspects of engineering concepts — and to have fun while doing so.

Although the idea of engineering and robotics may seem daunting to those not in the field, the club welcomes anyone from any background. They also mention that their robot kits are easily accessible to people from any academic background and that they are happy and eager to help anyone learn.

To get more information on the club and inquire about joining, students can email Comandini at scomandini@mail.bradley.edu.

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