Diana Neste of Whitehouse Station Named RoboCupJunior Champion

Diana Neste, a junior at Mount Saint Mary Academy, has been named a RoboCupJunior OnStage National Champion. She excelled as part of the Storming Robots team in Branchburg, NJ. She has been a member since the fourth grade.

According to mathematics teacher Stephen Muratore, the RoboCupJunior OnStage invites teams to develop a creative stage performance using autonomous robots that they have designed, built, and programmed.

The objective is to create a robotic performance of 2 minutes that uses technology to engage an audience. The challenge is intended to be open-ended.

This includes a whole range of possible performances, for example dance, storytelling, theatre or an art installation.

Teams are encouraged to be as creative, innovative and entertaining, in both the design of the robots and in the design of the overall performance.

Teams are judged based on technical demonstration, technical interview, OnStage performance, and a Technical Description Paper.

“At Storming Robots, I worked with three other high school students to create a final performance, entitled ARTificial Creativity, with a combination of technologies, programing languages, and interaction between them,” explained Neste. “Our project was meant to investigate and explore the question of ‘Can robots be creative?’ To do this, we made a total of five robots: a hologram robot narrator, two scribble bots, an autonomously playing drum set, and a dancing sheet.”

“The main portion of the project that I handled was the hologram robot narrator,” said Neste. “This involved designing, building, testing, and revising the main crab drive chassis, consisting of 2 EV3s and 8 motors, until it was stable and functional. I also utilized an Arduino Romeo as the basis of the electronics on my robot. Using it and an IR thermal camera, an Arduino C/C++ program I wrote moved my computer’s mouse depending on where the heat (from humans) was being emitted."

"A simultaneously running Python program used the mouse location to move the position of the hologram eyes, making them track humans and their movement," said Nesta. "I also wired an MP3 player and speaker to the Romeo to be able to narrate the performance. A diode attached to the speaker’s negative terminal controlled how open or closed the mouth was while speaking. The challenges faced throughout this process allowed for major growth and adaptation.”

Neste added, “During my time there, I have taken classes in robotics, algorithms in C/C++, and Arduino. While these technical skills were heavily utilized, the background and mindset gained has also enabled me to approach broader computer science tasks, such as Python, in a better way. I am extremely grateful to Storming Robots for this opportunity.”

The Storming Robots team will now advance to the international competition later this month. For more information about the competition, click here.

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