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Robotics Students Build a Real Solution to a Business’s Real Problem
Video by Jesse Paddock

If there’s something strange … in your neighborhood … who you gonna call?

For the owner of Clean Green — a local environmental services company that needed help with security — the answer was not, in fact, “Ghostbusters,” but rather, “Durham Academy Robotics.” And after a semester of ideating, prototyping, coding, problem-solving and refining, members of the Robotics II class have responded to that call with an innovative solution.

Clean Green needed a way to be notified about unwelcome critters or surprise visitors at its largely outdoor facility in Durham. So the owner reached out to DA robotics teacher and network manager Forrest Beck, who proposed the challenge to students in his Robotics II class. Excited by the idea of solving a real-world problem, they gladly took it on.

Their completed robot — known as OPR, or Outdoor Patrol Robot — is programmed to patrol the facility by driving to different GPS coordinates and monitoring those locations autonomously at night. When people, animals or vehicles are detected, the robot notifies appropriate personnel.

Beck explained that several factors had to be considered when building the machine: “returning to the homebase when the battery is low, using ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles, maintaining a good temperature inside the robot where the computer is installed, incorporating a safety light visible at night, maintaining low battery use so that it will last for eight hours of nighttime use, sending notifications to a mobile device, and keeping all this in a waterproof/weatherproof enclosure.”

DA videographer Jesse Paddock visited the Robotics II class over the course of the semester, documenting the process from concept to completion. Come along for the ride!