EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Inside the School of Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, there is a unique item worth more than $70,000.
The department received a robotic dog in October from Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Massachusetts.
“We call it ‘Bode,'” said Chris Gordon, associate dean SIUE School of Engineering. “It stands for the former chair and lead donor of the project here. We talked about the future of the industry and some of the advances in the technology and he felt this is something we really need to add to the school to our capabilities.”
So far, students and instructors have been learning the robot’s system as it gets acclimated to its new home.
“You learn about circuitry or even artificial intelligence in all your classes, but being able to look at it and learn from it right in front of you and analyze it right there, is completely different,” said electrical engineering student Ryan Kulasekara.
Like a real dog, the robot has to go to sleep and recharge its batteries, so it can discover new things when it wakes up.
Years ago, this campus had a real-life cougar mascot that would come out to the quad and walk around. Some 64 years after it was founded in Edwardsville, Illinois, another four-legged mascot of sorts may take its place.
“We are hoping to use this robot as the school’s mascot and hoping we will be able to take it to high schools to get prospective students excited about technology,” says Cem Karacal, Dean of Engineering SIUE School of Engineering. “It is the future. These things are coming.”
Years from now, the students will look back at the quaintness of this story, as the first robots began to get integrated into society. But for now, in the year 2021, they can marvel at the wonders of a robotic dog getting acclimated on a college campus.