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Staff Stories on the VRT

Staff Reveal What They Like the Most about the VRT

When you work for a company, if you’re very lucky you are able to share your passion and commitment with several other team members.

Here at Cogmation Robotics, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada; we’re lucky to be surrounded with like-minded professionals who share the same interest and focuses, and all strive to share the best of our software, The Virtual Robotics Toolkit (VRT) with the rest of the world.

Take Alex Crooks for example, our resident Educational Technology expert. A former teacher and FLL mentor, Alex has first-hand experience in how life changing a robotics team can be to students, as well as mentors. Discovering software like the VRT that not only helped Alex better teach his students, but also gave learning a new level of convenience for the students.

After discovering the VRT online, and using it with his teams, Alex actually left his role as a teach to come and work for the team. His passion for learning and teaching is contagious and we are so happy to have someone like him work with us.

What I love about the VRT is that it allows my students to practice at home, as many hours as they like. When students get really into robotics, it can be hard for them to get as much access to the robot or the challenge field as their interest warrants. With the VRT, they have a way to access the resources they need at home or at the local library.

Another team member who works on the back-end of our business, is on the front-lines of the software. Cyle Hunter is our resident Webmaster and has seen the growth of the VRT over the course of his employment.

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He tells a funny story about what he and a few others thought was a “bug” in the system:

One day after our developers put out a patch to our physics system, we discovered that one of our Sumo robots kept tipping itself over when it attempted to lift the opposing robot with it’s flipping mechanism.

We spent hours if not days debugging the issue, we re-imported the robot from scratch several times, optimized the collision data, reconfigured the centre of mass, but nothing seemed to work. One of our developers suggested that we should build an exact replica of the virtual robot in real-life and try to reproduce the problem.

We were under the impression that the robot’s design was perfect, and if there was a flaw then it must have been with the software. Eventually we gave in and built the robot in real-life, but only to prove to our developer that the software had a bug. Instead we found that, sure enough, it tipped itself over in real-life exactly like it did in the software.

What I love about the VRT is how accurate it is compared to physical robots. It’s amazing!

So as it turns out, the simulator is so accurate it even had our software engineers and developers fooled!

This incident of course further impassioned the team in their belief at what a powerful and impressive tool the VRT really is.

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