Redbird Robotics Expand Ranks During Second Year

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The Redbird Robotics team are gearing up for their next match at the International Aerial Robotics Competition, which is scheduled for July 31st to August 2nd this summer. Housed under the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Redbird Robotics started as an offshoot from River City Rocketry, the brainchild of Alex Bennett, now graduated, and current co-captain Alex Rickert, who built the team from the ground up, securing funding and members as part of their efforts. Now in their second year, the team has almost doubled in size from eight to fifteen members, and Rickert, a senior, is not only eyeing their next competition, but the continuity of the team.

“My dream has always been to be a multi-disciplinary robotics team. I love the drone, but I don’t want to do the drone team. I would love for us to do more team. I would love for us to have more pneumatics. Bring in more MEs. Design a deep sea robot. Robotics is not a drone. There are so many more people that we could be engaging for more than just a drone,” says Rickert.

Currently hard at work on Corvus 2.0, Rickert and his team are excited at their new designs for their drone. A quad-copter, the drone has four equally spaced arms holding propellors, secured by circular carbon fiber appendages. This year, they are upgrading the device to have hexagonally cut appendages, which will help stabilize minor shifts that may come from appendage slippage. They have also assembled a stereoscopic eye system, which can help the drone detect not only 3D space allowing for greater depth perception, but color, which can help it navigate the mission objective of the contest. But it doesn’t stop there.

Rickert says, “One thing I’m really excited about is separating the electronics from the mechanical structure. Right now, what I have to do, is I have to take out 16 nuts and slide a carbon fiber plate down. And it could be a very small task. We’ll have a rack that we can slide into the electronics compartment. We’ll have a back that’s similar to the back of a computer, we can disconnect in the back, slide out, manipulate, and slide back in. That will save so much time.”

Between a job, his education, and the team, Rickert admits that he and the other members of the team are seldom afforded much free time. The team and their other colleagues in the EGG shop together and spend time together, dedicating their energy to streamlining their project to perfection. Still, his passion for not only starting a project, but building a community is tangible, and the excitement that Rickert brings to his work is difficult to ignore.

“It’s definitely something that we love doing. There was a point during the last competition where we were tired, and kind of had to take a step back and realize that we were lucky to be doing this. Can you think of another problem that you would be facing today? This is literally one of the best jobs I’ve ever done,” says Rickert.