University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs - Student Portfolios

Robotic Assistance


Use a Vex robotics kit to create a stationary prosthetic, robotic arm that will manipulate a paper cup (grab without crushing, move, lift, rotate).  The arm will have:

  • Two fingers each with 2 joints. The fingers do not need to move independently, but they must move forward and backward
  • One thumb with 1 joint and must move forward and backward
  • One hand and wrist which allows the two fingers and thumb to rotate
  • One forearm to lift and lower hand
  • One upper arm to move the hand forward and back 

Use a LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit to build a model, voice/sound controlled rescue robot that can follow a predetermined path to escape a building after a disaster. The robot will have to navigate a predetermined path on a course that contains:

  • 1 set of foam board stairs
  • A randomly placed movable obstacle (plastic tub)
  • A randomly placed unmovable obstacle (cinder block)
  • left and right turns

Use an iRobot to create and demonstrate a search robot that searches a simulated room (using virtual walls and actual obstacles for survivors after a disaster. The robot will identify survivors by having the survivors interact with the robot once the survivor is located.

Develop a work plan as to how the search robot and rescue robots could work together                      

Essential Questions

  1. What is a robot?
  2. How do robots “think”?
  3. Can a robot’s manipulation of objects or locomotion meet the needs of a person?

Students will be able to answer the following questions:

  1. How can a computer program cause a robot lift, turn, move forward or backward?
  2. How does a robot interpret data from sensors?

Students should be able to:

  • Explain the embodiment, sensing, and action of a robot
  • Design and build robot models which demonstrate how robots can provide assistance to people

Students will know:

  • Movement and motion of a robot is typically controlled using combinations of basic software commands.
  • The correspondence of degrees of freedom to movement
  • The design and construction of a complex machine requires planning and communication