Since I’ve already been at Colby for three weeks working with the Computer Science Department, I thought I’d just fill you guys in on what I’ve been up to! First of all, my official summer job title is a “systems administrator.” To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what that means but I think it means that basically I do a lot of different stuff. I work helping out making sure the networked computers in the Robotics lab are up and running, however my primary job as of right now is to work with two other research assistants (RA’s) to program robot soccer. We have four DarwinOP robots to work with (with each costing more than your average car) and are continuing the research that Colby students and our professor have done on them for the past couple years.
So far, they have written walking modules, ball tracking modules, and kicking modules. That means the robots (well, one of our robots, we would need to transfer the software to our other non pretty much blank robots) can walk, (sort of) detect a ball, (sort of) and kick a ball. (sort of) As of right now, they can’t aim for the goal or account for other robots. That being said, there is a lot of work just to kind of fix what we already have which it seems like the rest of the summer will be spent on. Hopefully in the future (the next year or so) the robots will be able to actively play a soccer game. But it is a lot of work.
My job specifically is kind of both to learn and help out the other RA’s. I have very little CS experience compared with them, and one of the reasons I was hired (I think?) was kind of to learn and get familiar with a bunch of different CS concepts that will hopefully help me in the future too. Already I feel pretty comfortable with C (which I just taught myself over the last few weeks) and can navigate the terminal pretty well too. I was able to ssh (log into, to put simply) into my computer in my dorm from the robots lab the other day and open up things on it, which was pretty cool.
Below are pictures of one of the robots, Frodo. We named each of the robots after the Lord of the Rings hobbits, so we have Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin. Additionally each of the Robotics lab Linux computers (the computers that I am responsible for keeping up and running and connected to the server) is named after a dwarf in the hobbit – so we have balin, (the server) bofur, bifur, nain, kili, thorin, dori, etc. We’re in the middle of doing some non hardware related coding so I wasn’t able to get that many good pictures of the robots up and running but I thought I’d start off by just showing you what we have and what they look like when they’re non operational! I should be updating this page later this week with some real operational pictures. It’s pretty cool.