Josh Eckels, a student of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, combines mechatronics and AI to develop a robot that can play chess.

A camera that moves at 3 feet and observes all of the chessmen on the board is part of the fully autonomous chess system. When the opponent moves the chess piece, the Arduino microcontroller senses the change in movement and checks the board for its next best move. The signal is then sent to the claw gripper, which moves the piece for the robot-controlled team. There are four motors in the arrangement.

Josh Eckels used the 3D printer in the MakerLab to create most of the mechanical parts in the system. Players can choose their difficulty and choose their moves using an attached touch interface.

Most of the student projects are now AI-related. A team of researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in California developed a robotic arm for repairing IKEA furniture. By carrying screws and other equipment, the robotic arm aids people in fixing the furniture.

Under the direction of a professor, Jonathan Hurst at Oregon State University had developed the bipedal robot-cassie that can run vast distances. It had set a record for running 5kms in 53 minutes.

On Quoting about the fully autonomous chess system, Josh Eckels said that one creates a challenge when they take on a project like that, and he wanted to see that through to his satisfaction. He added that he really wanted to do something that would encapsulate all of his technical and artificial intelligence skills. He said he saw that as a nice closure to his Rose-Hulman career.

Josh Eckels is a 2021 Mechanical Engineering graduate with a Computer Science minor. This entirely automated chess playing robot combines mechatronics and artificial intelligence.

This project was presented as one of many student projects in the Rose -show, a Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus event designed to encourage student activity.

Josh Eckels is passionate about space exploration and has enrolled in the University of Michigan’s aerospace Ph.D. program to begin his next journey.