Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
    East Carolina University Engineering Students Go Beyond Lemonade, Build a Fruit Sorting Robot

    When life hands you lemons, why stop at making lemonade? The students of East Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology took it a step further by building a robot that can deliver it. The ECU ATMAE robotics team recently placed second in a national competition for their innovative creation named Patchy.

    The team, consisting of interdisciplinary students from computer science, technology systems, and engineering departments, developed Patchy to solve a materials handling problem. They consulted with industry experts from Hyster-Yale and BSH to design a robot that can identify and select the appropriate boxes from a pallet and sort them into specific locations.

    Patchy utilizes a gantry crane system with an AI vision system to pick up and move boxes, sorting them into separate piles if necessary. It can also place the boxes on conveyer belts or other designated areas for further processing.

    The students faced numerous challenges throughout the process, including power supply issues, sensor errors, and 3D part printing complications. However, their perseverance paid off as Patchy impressed the judges with its innovation, original fabrication, and computer coding.

    Olivia Sawtell, the student president of ECU’s ATMAE robotics team, expressed her excitement about the second-place finish. She emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration in bringing all the individual parts together to create a cohesive and functional robot.

    The learning experience doesn’t stop here for the ATMAE students. They have several ideas and projects lined up for the next semester, including the development of three companion robots. Regardless of skill level, the team is dedicated to helping others learn and grow in the field of robotics.

    In addition to the robotics team’s success, ECU engineering student Heath Faircloth also achieved second place in the student technology IQ challenge, showcasing the university’s prowess in technological innovation.

    For anyone interested in joining ECU’s ATMAE student organization or learning more about their projects, they can reach out to the club via email.


    Q: What is Patchy?
    A: Patchy is a robot created by the ECU ATMAE robotics team that can sort and move materials.

    Q: What challenges did the students face during the development process?
    A: The students faced challenges such as power supply issues, sensor errors, and 3D part printing complications.

    Q: What is the next project for the ATMAE students?
    A: The ATMAE students are working on developing three companion robots to accompany Patchy.

    Q: How can someone join ECU’s ATMAE student organization?
    A: Those interested in joining can email the club for more information.