72 SERVO 10.2014
Walking Dead with their friends at school. While the
Working Model presentations were impressive, it was the
mini-sculpture demonstrations that really displayed the
caliber of the COSMOS students.
A Sculpture Michelangelo
Would be Proud of
Cluster 2 was divided into six teams of about four
students each. Team 1 was christened Michelangelo, and
their mini-sculpture explored the art of marble color sorting.
An infrared sensor at the top of the ramp determined the
color of the marble based on its infrared reflectivity.
Automated gates (programmed in Robot C) stopped
the marble at different heights on the
ramp based on the color of the
marble. Depending on how much
kinetic energy the marble built up by
the bottom of the ramp, it went into
one of three baskets. Other than a
few errant bounces here and there,
the mini-sculpture did indeed sort the
The team also expressed some
difficulty with maintaining consistency
with their sculpture. Sometimes the
balls would come in too hot and
bounce out of the baskets. With some
encouragement from their mentors,
the team figured out that their
problem was with the mounting of
the light sensor — it was mounted on
the gate that controlled entry of the
marbles onto the ramp. The
movement meant inconsistent
readings. Possible solutions sprang
forth from the group presentation — move the light sensor
to a fixed position or take the average of several readings.
That’s one of the major goals of these milestone
presentations: tackling problems and testing solutions as
part of the iterative design process.
Hardcore Robot Parkour
Team 2 adopted the moniker of Team Parkour, and
created an acrobatic mini-sculpture that lived up to its
name. Team Parkour also used an infrared sensor for color
sorting, but instead of sending the marbles into different
baskets they were sent along completely different paths.
Team Parkour’s sculpture included a nice demonstration of
another required element of the project: the human
This component challenged the
students to implement some sort of
human interaction with their
otherwise autonomous sculpture.
Team Parkour created a custom
control box that allowed a user to
manually override the color-determined path selection with the
press of a button.
Masters of the
Team 3 was the Kinetic Masters,
who also designed a mini-sculpture
that sorted marbles onto different
tracks depending on color. Team 3’s
experience was a great example of
the iterative design process. The
Kinetic Masters also had some initial
difficulty in sorting their marbles
properly. Their first design placed the
THE WORK OF ART
THE MAKING OF A DROP TOWER FOR
TEAM PARKOUR'S FULL SCULPTURE.