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The Family that Builds Robots Together …

Some parents volunteer at their childrens’ school. Some spend hours on the floor building Lego towers. Others turn their garages into veritable robot factories for their precocious daughters.

OK, I only know of one family that’s done the latter: the Beatty clan in Asheville, NC. Father Robert and his two daughters (Camille, 13, and Genevieve, 11) are self-taught robotics engineers who began tinkering in the garage a few years ago. Now, they’ve built some replicas of NASA’s rovers that are landing in science museums.

When staff at the New York Hall of Science saw the family’s 500-part remote-controlled replica of the Spirit rover (dubbed Spirit II), they knew it would make a perfect replacement for the small robot that rumbled around their Mars exhibit. Samuel Litt, the museum’s IT director, asked Beatty Robotics to build another rover that could last nine hours on a single charge, and that was small enough to operate in the Mars exhibit’s enclosure. The replica employs range-finding sonar sensors to avoid running into walls, and visitors to the museum can operate the rover with a remote control designed and built by Beatty daughters (that remote was originally designed for a tank robot that shot BBs).

Since then, the family has received requests for other robot replicas, including a working copy of the Russian Lunokhod moon rover for a museum in Prague. The family has built its own computer-guided milling machine with a three-axis gantry system to cut parts, which came in handy when they were working on the eight robots they were commissioned to make by various museums.

You can see a video of the CNS machine in action on the Mars rover below.

Source: Beatty Robotics

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.