Ohio University Ohio University Science

Bobcat Robotics Battles for the Environment

Are Robots the answer to saving our environment? Bobcat Robotics seems to think so–

Underneath the hustle and bustle of Ohio University college students and professors at Stocker Hall; all the way in the left back corner of the buildings basement, a group of eager young men plan out their ambitions and dreams for robotic innovation. These young scientists hope to transform Stocker 015B into a functioning lab that allows them to achieve tremendous feats with their robots.

The new club on campus, Bobcat Robotics, is not just building these machines for competitions or for the sake of scientific leisure, but they hope to tackle one of the world’s most important problems; the well being of the environment.     

Kartic Ganjoo, Bobcat Robotics creator and president, envisions our world becoming more robotic oriented within the next generation. Ganjoo predicts that there will be, in our society, what many scientists call a “Cambrian explosion.”  These explosions have been documented throughout the human evolution process as we developed certain advanced traits. This modern Cambrian explosion, that is predicted to occur, will involve robots instead of humans this time around.

So will our lives be completely taken over by these machines? Will humans find themselves resembling the depiction of the human race in Pixar’s Wali, relying on robots for everyday activities? According to the chairmen of Bobcat Robotics, the answer is no. These scientists foresee humans using robots as means to better our well being as well as the environment’s well being.

“If everyone is a little bit prepared for it (the Cambrian explosion of robots) and knows how to work with robots, then they’re going to be worth way more than the “normal” person in the upcoming years,” Ganjoo says.   

As our society becomes more technology oriented, and as robotic resources become easier to obtain financially (starter kits costing around twenty five to thirty dollars) for the average person, more jobs and fields of study will require some knowledge about robotics. Bobcat Robotics primary goal is to first make people aware of the opportunities that robotics can provide for them, regardless of their majors or career paths, and that building and working with robots is much easier now than ever before.

“We want to increase inter-college relationships using robotics as a medium,” Ganjoo says. “When people are creative we’re going to have so many robots doing so many different things that it’s just going to be…so cool.”  

Among the many different fields of study that the club hopes to influence with their robotic inventions, environmental science and sustainability happens to be one of their major fields to impact.

When asked what goals the club hoped to achieve in the various competitions it hopes to enroll in, Cameron Schumann, the VP of Bobcat Robotics, said that many of the categories or requirements of the competitions will have to do with energy sustainability. Schumann plans for the club to create robots that run off of solar energy instead of batteries, which most robots currently use. By competing and placing well in their competitions, the club hopes to spread the importance and bring to light the potential robotics can have on our lives.

If more and more people see that not only do sustainable and environmentally efficient robots work just as well and provide even more than the “typical” robot, then people will invent more ways in which robots can benefit our lives.

“As robots become more autonomous we can start programing them to do more environmental things,” Evan Crichton, the Treasurer of Bobcat Robotics, says. “Like keeping water and air cleaner, and doing simple maintenance things around factories.”

The challenge to live more environmentally friendly in order to protect our planet has been put on mankind for years. But, perhaps it is time for us to think outside the bounds of humanity and focus on technology as the answer to this enormous challenge. The potential of robotics is only limited to our own creativity and motivation. When science is utilized by those who care for the well being of our planet, good things will follow.

Photos by Alexandria Polanosky, Multimedia Editor

Kaitlin is more than ready to put her green thumb, journalistic mind, and quirky artistic self to work here at College Green Magazine. Kaitlin is a freshman in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is planning on specializing in environmental studies. Having a passion for the arts as well, Kaitlin is a part of The Lost Flamingo Company at Ohio…

Want to learn more? Check out the Staff Bios page.