OU students, grads overseas competing in Amazon robotics competition

OU students, grads overseas competing in Amazon robotics competition
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The 2015 Team Dataspeed/Grizzly with Baxter the robot before last year's Amazon Picking Challenge. From left to right: Marian Prusak, Lincoln Lorenz, Micho Radovnikovich, Kevin Hallenbeck, Mike Lohrer, Paul Fleck, Nathan Fleck, Brian Neumeyer, Noah Fleck, Mike Norman.

A group of current Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science students and alumni of the university has teamed up with local robotics firm Dataspeed, Inc., to compete for the second year in the Amazon Picking Challenge.


This year, the challenge is taking place from June 30 through July 3 in Leipzig, Germany. Oakland’s Team Dataspeed/Grizzly will be competing against prestigious universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Duke University and others.


The Amazon Picking Challenge hosts teams from across the world who will demonstrate the capabilities of autonomous robots to perform lifting and picking operations, with the overarching purpose of beginning to build out robotic warehouse operations for the future. Even the most basic of motions require complex software development and algorithms.


Team Dataspeed/Grizzly, a joint effort between engineering firm Dataspeed and several Oakland University engineering students, placed third last year, behind TU Berlin and MIT. Team Dataspeed/Grizzly will be showcasing their mobility base, which, when combined with the Baxter robot, allows for a fully autonomous, intelligent robot.


All eight team members on Team Dataspeed/Grizzly are either current or former students of Oakland.


Paul Fleck, CEO and president of Dataspeed, said the event is a very exciting opportunity for his company.


“We’re honored to have been invited back after last year’s competition, which was an opportunity to see the truly amazing inventions people from all over the world have created, and we look forward to what this year’s competition brings,” said Fleck.


The robots will be presented with a stationary lightly populated inventory shelf and be asked to pick a subset of the products and put them on a table. Robots will be scored by how many items are picked in a fixed amount of time, with $26,000 in prizes being awarded. This year, a new competition – the Stow Task – will introduce the challenge of taking items out of a tote and putting them into the shelving unit.


Paul McCown, CFO and EVP of Dataspeed, said the team spent the better portion of the past month focusing its resources on gearing up for the competition.


“This is exciting from a public relations perspective and a technology perspective,” said McCown. “It’s cutting edge stuff for the entire world, but Amazon would benefit from the technology themselves. This type of job could and should be done by robots, and we encourage that kind of innovation and technology.”


To learn more about Dataspeed, Inc., visit dataspeedinc.com.