Implementation of Universal Robots UR10 Robotic Arm for an Automated Sowing Robot with Customized End Effectors; Fleeting Flakes

DeSantis, Gunnar, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Wylie, Caitlin, Department of Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Garner, Gavin, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Many recreational activities have too high of a barrier. Enabling people to partake in hobbies in adulthood could be an important part of mitigating the mental health crisis in many first-world countries. However, many people get their hobbies from friends, family, geographical location, or other happenstance. While some natural amount of randomness with regard to what someone is exposed to is to be expected, given their benefits, activities like skiing and gardening should be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. The sociotechnical problem and technical problem I address both pertain to the accessibility of recreational activity. The sociotechnical problem addresses the sustainability of skiing itself, and the technical problem uses mechanical engineering to help students begin gardening and garden more frequently.

The sociotechnical problem is that the United States has been hemorrhaging small ski areas in favor of destination resorts, and many think that is an indicator of skiing itself becoming unsustainable. I analyzed academic literature from North America and Europe, books written on the issue of skiing’s sustainability, interviews with industry leaders, and raw data from advocacy groups such as the National Ski Areas Association. The result was that there were three main risks to skiing’s sustainability that ski industry leaders could take action on: employee living conditions, high barriers to entry for non-skiers, and environmental destruction.

The technical problem was to use a UR10 industrial robot arm to automatically sow trays full of Bok Choy seeds to be germinated. Students could order and pick up a tray of germinated seedlings. The solution used a magnetic tool exchanger that coupled the robot arm with multiple customized tools. We also built an environment of analog machines built to dispense dirt and seeds, arrange finished trays, and replenish new trays. The logic and electronics of the system were all isolated within the UR10 so that our analog machines would be cheaper, more maintainable, more durable, and easily iterated.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Skiing, GrowBot, Industrial Robot, UR10, Sustainability of Skiing, Destination Ski Resorts, Multimountain Ski Companies

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Gavin Garner
STS Advisor: Caitlin Wylie
Technical Team Members: Tomas De Oliveira

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