Kim Werker interviewed Bob Cook, one of the organizers of the Vancouver Robotics Club.
In just three sentences, what’s the Vancouver Robotics Club all about?
The Vancouver Robotics Club is an informal group of hobbyists who share a passion to make robots! We meet once a month to exchange ideas, show off our creations, and encourage more robot building.
What’s your role in the club? What about robotics excites you?
I’m one of the club organizers, looking after the website, mailing list, and try to do my part to encourage more robot building. I find the combination of mechanics, electronics and software (the three basic building blocks for robots) really interesting, with many new things to learn all the time. It’s really rewarding to make something that can have a “life of its own” – even when it drives itself into walls all the time.
I take it you don’t have to be a robot to join – is membership open to anyone who’s interested? Robotics experience required?
Membership is open to robot builders of all ages and experience levels. Most of our members are working professionals with some experience in software or electronics. On occasion we’ll have tutorials or workshops, but often our meeting discussions are of the kind “let me show you what I’ve made” or “wow how did you make that?” Everyone is encouraged to share their knowledge and skills.
What will the VRC be showing off at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire? What’s your piece de resistance? Will you have any hands-on materials people will be able to learn with?
We’ll be showing off the typical line-following and mini sumo robots that people can build themselves with only a moderate investment of money and time. These are autonomous robots that “think” for themselves (rather than remote-controlled toys), and are great to build as a first project. We’ll likely be showing off some larger, more complex robots too. Club members will be on hand to give lots of demos, talk about how each robot works, and how people can get started to build their very own.
Which fictional robot do you find more impressive, or at least more companionable – Rosie from The Jetsons or R2D2 from Star Wars?
Ah, excellent and very difficult question! Rosie certainly has a charming personality and certainly could keep my workshop tidy (something I’m really terrible at – most days it looks like a tornado came through). On the other hand, R2D2 seems to have a quick wit and an excellent sense of humour. At least it sounds that way (requires a bit of an imagination, with all those whistles and pops). He is quite good at getting around – most robots only have legs or only have wheels, but he has both. And R2D2 seems to have no problem navigating deserts, swamps or space stations. Better than a GPS!