Sunday, July 2, 2017

ISU Robotics program builds functioning R2-D2 robots By Shelbie Harris sharris

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What started as a senior project for a student enrolled in Idaho State University’s College of Technology Robotics program has evolved into something that many Star Wars fans have dreamed of for decades — designing and building a fully-functional R2-D2 robot.

The Robotics program has one fully constructed R2-D2 robot and another that’s under construction that program director Shane Slack said is hopeful will be done in time for September’s Snake River Comic Con in Pocatello.

“Originally, one of the students came up and said they wanted to build an R2-D2 robot for a final project, you know, and it’s movies and characters like this that get most kids excited to join this type of program,” Slack said. “We didn’t really have 3-D printing at the time so trying to find the materials to make it and coming up with the mechanical aspects of it was difficult. Honestly, at the end of the two-month period it didn’t look anything like R2-D2.”

It took eight weeks to construct the first R2-D2 robot’s basic framework, which included two aluminum plates manufactured by the machine shop that serve as R2-D2’s shoulders. The original model featured a plexiglass outer shell.

Over the next two semesters, students continued to shape the exterior skin, hardware and programming aspects until they had a functioning R2-D2 robot.

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