PTC Mechatronics Technology: Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks?
You might say that Piedmont Technical College’s O’Dell Upstate Center for Manufacturing Excellence in Greenwood is now a dog-friendly facility. A new four-legged resident can be seen patrolling the halls on a regular basis, and it’s loyal to the Mechatronics Technology Program. And make no mistake, the light chrome-colored canine is a very special “shop dog.”
“It’s a quadruped robot. It walks on four legs. It actually looks like a dog. It has artificial intelligence gesture recognition, so it can be programmed to follow you around,” said Sam George, Mechatronics Technology instructor at PTC. “I was told we are the first in the state to get one.”
So far, the AI canine has not been given a name, though it seems inevitable that students will come up with one before long. Perhaps something like “Nimble,” because the robot dog is lithe and flexible, able to navigate different terrains, to jump, to rear up and beg, and even to climb stairs. Equipped with seven cameras, it capable of mapping an entire building. It can move pretty quickly, too, with a top speed of 10 miles per hour.
George says the robot dog is a valuable teaching tool for much of the Mechatronics Technology curriculum. “It’s basically a computer on four legs,” he said. Students can maintain, repair, and program it. “I am hoping to get a couple more. Right now, we rotate it through our classes.”
Now if they can just program one to catch a frisbee. …
For more information about PTC’s Mechatronics Technology Program, please visit www.ptc.edu/mechatronics.
• Instructor Sam George hands the controller to PTC Mechatronics Technology students.
• The robot dog is becoming a familiar sight in the hallways of the O’Dell Center.
• The quadruped robot traverses a crosswalk in front of the O’Dell Center.