Fire-fighting mobile robotics and interdisciplinary design-comparative perspectives

Daniel J. Pack, Robert Avanzato, David J. Ahlgren, Igor M. Verner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The objective of this paper is to illustrate the benefits of an autonomous fire-fighting robot design competition as an effective tool for undergraduate education. It presents experiences at the United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, CO; Pennsylvania State University-Abington; and Trinity College, Hartford, CT, together with the results of the contest surveys conducted in collaboration with The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. The primary goal of the design project is to create an autonomous mobile robot that navigates through a maze searching for a fire (simulated by a burning candle), detects the candle's flame, extinguishes the flame, and returns to a designated starting location in the maze. The fire-fighting design contest promotes interdisciplinary design and teamwork. To accomplish the stated goal, students must integrate knowledge gained from such classes as engineering design, circuits, controls, signals and systems, computer programming, mathematics, and engineering mechanics. Within the three institutions, the contest has been successfully utilized as a foundation for a wide range of educational goals. These activities include freshman design, robotics courses, K-12 outreach, senior design projects, and undergraduate research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-376
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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