My friend Erica Kane, from HacDC, recently went to an open house at the University of Maryland’s robotics department. This is a cool thing to do, if you live near a school that has such a department (or some other tech discipline you’re interested in). Call them up and see if/when they’re doing an open house. Erica wrote up a little report of her day on her family website.

The robot shown here is Tortuga 3, which has won a number of important competitions. It was not running today, however, because the on-board computer was showing a disturbing tendency to shut down unexpectedly. The thrusters still continue to function in that case, which can lead to an irreversible dive. (Sounds like a design flaw to me.) This allowed us to take a closer look at the fascinating machine. Building a land robot is pretty hard; making one that is waterproof too is very impressive.

Robotics Open House at the University of Maryland

Check out our massive Robotics Archive here on MAKE

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy person’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.