Collaborative Robot Race from the Media Computing Group Breaks the Ice at the AC² Startup Competition

Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:00pm

Entrepreneur Parcours © Department of Computer Science

Each year, the AC² Competition of the Entrepeneur Region (“Gründerregion”) Aachen supports entrepreneurs' startup and business growth ideas through free mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs, professional promotion videos, and much more.

During this year's four kickoff events in and around Aachen, an interactive exhibit by Prof. Jan Borchers' Media Computing Group at RWTH Aachen University helps to break the ice: Together, two players have to navigate a robotic ball through the Entrepreneur Parcours together.

The obstacles are designed to remind you of the challenges a startup faces, from a funnel (to focus your startup idea), to a “labyrinth of legal regulations” and a pivot-point teeter-totter, to a ramp at the end that needs you to pick up some serious speed, and a little bell that rings (hopefully) like your cash register when you cross the finishing line. The ball shape perfectly matches this year's competition theme: “Get your startup and business growth rolling!” And, like in the competition, you need to work together to master the obstacles, and we don't care how fast you are - participating is already a win.

The exhibit was designed by Jan Thar, PhD student at the Fab Lab Aachen, the Media Computing Group's lab. Thanks to its rapid prototyping machinery like lasercutters and 3D printers, we were able to design the parcours quickly and affordably, test it with users, and improve it iteratively. For example, we moved from square to triangular and hexagonal elements for better stability, and redesigned the steering several times based on user observations and feedback. The Fab Lab Aachen is open to anybody every Tuesday.

During the kickoff events in Euskirchen, Heinsberg, and Düren the exhibit was already a great success, giving people a chance to have fun, talk, and make new contacts. The largest and final kickoff event is taking place this week on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 at 7pm in the “Depot Talstraße”—find out more and register at the AC² website. The parcours itself is also a great icebreaker for other events: more information on the parcours.