Athens, OH 16 January 2017 –
As it mechanically turns its head, the Robocat centers its gaze on me. “Hey Rufus,” I state, and quickly the cat meows to acknowledge I’ve spoken to it. These are just two of the newly added features for the robotic cat; however, for me, they are far from my favorite aspects of the cat.
The RoboCat project began in 2011 as “A Biomimetic Cable Driven Quadruped Robot – The RoboCat.” Since then it’s provided computer science students with practical engineering experience by adding features to the android app it runs on, provided Electrical Engineering students with the opportunity to work with the electrical components of the cat, and Mechanical Engineering students the opportunity to work with building a functional, quadrupedal cat.
In my own experience, the freedom in reverse engineering a real animal, combined with the balance of importance of the work every engineering student has done upon the cat; it’s not hard to take pride in the work done to the RoboCat.
As an eye-catching project, the cat has served not only as a beacon of education for seniors in engineering programs, but also as a point of interest and potential entry in to STEM fields for children. Very recently, we presented the current version of the RoboCat to the faculty and friends of the EECS department’s staff. While many professors stopped and viewed the project briefly, it was the kids in attendance who couldn’t get enough. Very quickly they were laughing while testing the movement of the cat’s head and shouting out commands; in other words, the real value of this project is its ability to get young kids interested in Engineering projects on any level.