Rockdale Math and Science Magnet High School focuses on the fields of mathematics, sciences and technology. It provides college-level courses to better prepare its students for the ever-demanding and evolving business environment in the 21st century. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that inspires young people to strive for outstanding innovation in the field of science and technology. The organization is also home to its annual Robotics High School National Competition (FRC).
The school's FIRST team, known as the Rockdale Magnet Engineering Team, was mentored by GeckoSystems CEO and President R. Martin Spencer as well as the company's Robotics Engineer Kevin O'Connor. GeckoSystems will provide additional support or added assistance to the team. Mr. Spencer and Mr. O'Connor both have extensive experience in the field of robotics with a total of 8 years experience in the FIRST program and FRC.
"As a company that does extensive development of mobile robot technology, GeckoSystems will be able to introduce the students to the real world applications of some of the principles they may be using in the FRC competition," stated Mr. O'Connor.
As the engineering team prepared for the Robotics Competition, they truly valued the expertise and experience GeckoSystems provided.
"Kevin (O'Connor) has been a terrific asset to the team as a mentor. He's provided terrific support for our programmers, electrical help and insight into what the students need to be doing from someone who has actually competed recently. Just as importantly he's been willing to talk with many of the students about engineering in college and beyond," stated David Bonar, Physics and AP Physics Teacher at Rockdale. "In connection with this, I am pleased to say that we are listing GeckoSystems as one of our sponsors on the robot, our team shirts, and in our pit area."
Added student Mark Meyers: "The GeckoSystems team was also very helpful to us in my school First Robotics Competition. They sponsored us by helping us with coding and ideas for how to make the (robotic) design in general. The most incredible part is that they contacted us asking if they could help. It was our first year at that competition and we wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as we were. They helped with writing code and they were up to date with all of the necessary technology."
Recently the faculty sponsors and some of the team members visited GeckoSystems R&D laboratory for live demos of various GeckoSystems' technologies. (See YouTube video links at the end of this press release.)
The students and faculty were extremely impressed with GeckoSystems' flagship product, the CareBot. The engineering team was in continual awe of its innovative capabilities and important benefits.
"As a teacher, it was awesome to be able to show students real world engineering with cutting edge technology. As you emphasized to the students, engineering problem solving involves working with the real world which can be very different then the often idealized world that is presented in schools," stated Mr. Bonar. "Learning about how GeckoSystems has dealt with both standard problems such as egg-shaped wheels and more specific challenges such as developing a first of its kind navigation system using the Microsoft Kinect as a sensor was an invaluable experience for students who are interested in engineering careers."
Bonar added: "GeckoNav was a particularly interesting aspect of the robot. The fluid motion of the robot in both the wandering mode and the target seeking mode was impressive. GeckoChat was not as immediately impressive but is even more critical to the success of a service robot. The combination of scheduled verbal interaction for reminders, the random jokes and quotes for a more human feeling, and the potential for two way communication via the robot seems to be a great match for the intended role of the robots."
Mr. Meyers added: "GeckoChat was the high point in my opinion. The CareBot robot was able to tell jokes, say famous quotes, and even play games. The quotes and jokes were even set to go off at certain times of the day or every so many minutes. Something that was also notable about the chat was the fact that you could set reminders to go off in however long you needed them, whether it was 15 minutes or a week. This would be especially important to remind people to take medications or things of that sort."
"GeckoNav was thoroughly impressive. The way the software manages to generate pathways that allow it to avoid obstacles while maintaining a smooth travel path is perfect for the robot. In a domestic setting, an erratic travel pattern would not be tolerated very long by most," stated Rockdale Teacher Kenny Baskett. "Furthermore, your use of the Microsoft Kinect is brilliant. It's a testament to the quality of you and your team that you have managed to get this working before anyone else in the world."
GeckoSystems officials believe that sponsorships with schools such as Rockdale that promote the fields of science and technology will bring awareness to the advancements made in robot innovation. From the response of the engineering team, that feeling is mutual.
Said Mr. Meyers: "I still, to this day, cannot wait to see the finished (robotic) project, and even hope that my occupation will one day use technology innovated by GeckoSystems."
The Rockdale Magnet School (formally, the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology) is a Magnet School located in Conyers, Ga., Rockdale County. It is a selective school whose students take on rigorous college-level courses in mathematics, the natural sciences, technology/engineering, and research. It was opened in 2000 to provide a rigorous high school curriculum for the youth in Rockdale County. The school focuses on the fields of mathematics, sciences and technology.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.
With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
About GeckoSystems International Corporation:
Since 1997, GeckoSystems has developed a comprehensive, coherent, and sufficient suite of hardware and software inventions to enable a new type of home appliance (a personal companion robot) the CareBot, to be created for the mass consumer marketplace. The suite of primary inventions includes: GeckoNav, GeckoChat and GeckoTrak.
Third-annual "Mobile Robots in Motion" stakeholder conference April 13-14, 2011 in Conyers, Ga.
The conference will demonstrate GeckoSystems' state-of-the-art mobile robots and its technologies concerning its recently expanded product line, the personal companion robot, the CareBot and the "collision proof" upgrade wheelchair kit, the GWK001.
Journalists are encouraged to contact GeckoSystems regarding the progress of the company and potentially attending the upcoming invitation only "Mobile Robots in Motion" conference. Journalists and other interested parties may submit their request for an invitation to info(at)geckosystems.com or call 678-413-9236. Space is limited, so please inquire soon.
The CareBot has proven to be ideal for the Consumer Familycare market (care for children and the elderly) which has been chronicled in articles from Psychology Today ( http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adventures-in-old-age/200906/the-robots-have-dawned-meet-the-carebot) and subject-related blogs ( http://cgmasi.com/eyeontechnology/2009/06/personal-robots-to-monitor-elderly-vital-signs.html). In this market, MSRs serve as a cost-effective alternative to nursing assistance or assistance living residency. The estimated savings total near the tens of thousands of dollars.
The CareBot has multiple layers of safety precautions. These safeguards are enabled three ways: mechanical, electronic, and using AI computer software.
- The robot is very stable and difficult to tip over since nearly seventy percent of its weight is less than eight inches above the floor and sits low between large, ten-inch diameter wheels. The wheels are wide and soft enough such that if the robot did go over a child's arm, for example, it would not break the skin or any bones.
- Multiple layers of sensors are fused to provide a safety umbrella to enable actionable situational awareness. Going outward from the center of the CareBot is the GeckoTactileShroud, which detects where on its shroud it has been bumped by people or animals. The GeckoImager detects virtually everything in the front and to the sides of this fully autonomous mobile robot up to sixty inches. Obstacles more distant are detected by twin ultrasonic rangefinders.
- The advanced AI navigation software, GeckoNav, takes in the hundreds of sensor readings per second and using its high level situational awareness, consistently avoids unforeseen static and/or dynamic obstacles for safe movements.