The University Record, April 12, 1999

Snap shots

Conference revisits Polish Round Table talks

Audience members at 'Communism's Negotiated Collapse: The Polish Round Table of 1989, Ten Years Later,' the CREES-sponsored conference last week on the 1989 collapse of communism in Poland, were given headsets so that they could hear simultaneous interpretation of the speakers in either English or Polish. Many of the speakers gave their presentations in Polish. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

OmniMate's a whiz

Without signposts in the open ocean or a reliable way to take reference points from the stars, ancient mariners navigated by 'dead reckoning,' figuring out where you are by mapping the distance and direction you've traveled.

An innovative new robot developed by the Mobile Robotics Lab navigates in the same way, using very precise odometers on four of its 12 wheels to figure distance and direction.

Omnimate is a sort of smart pallet, supporting a flat 3-foot-by-6-foot platform on its back. `The current model can carry 250 pounds, but the next generation OmniMate could handle up to 1,000,' says Johann Borenstein (right), associate research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.

`Any production plan that needs to move materials can use the OmniMate. Specifically in our ara, the three big car makers would be interested.' One OmniMate is being tested at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Machining Systems.

OmniMate comes from a family of robots knowns as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). Unlike most existing AGVs, however, OmniMate can move in any direction, including sideways, diagonally, or rotating on the spot.

Photo by Bob Kalmbach

Freshman Touring Company back at Pease April 19

The Dance Department's Freshman Touring Company will give the final performance of its spring tour at the Betty Pease Studio Theater at 1:30 p.m. April 19. The group, under the direction of Bill DeYoung, is presenting eight pieces to schools and the public in Dexter, Saginaw, Ann Arbor's Community High School, South Lyon, Plymouth-Canton and the University's Gifts of Art program at University Hospital this week. The 12 first year students are dance majors at the School of Music and have choreographed six of the eight pieces they will perform. `When they come back here and perform, people are astonished at their growth,' DeYoung says. `This is truly a conservatory program, and most of these dancers aspire to a professional career.' DeYoung has scheduled the spring tour for more than eight years, and says that it is vital to the growth of the students. `The more performance opportunities we can create for these student from the time that they come into the program, the more quickly they will grow,' he says. DeYoung is associate professor of dance in the School of Music. Photo by Bob Kalmbach