Once upon a time, four Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering (MME) students at the University of Waterloo met in a robotics lab. Bonded by a shared passion for robots and curiosity about what the future of the industry would bring, they began a project: to build a robot that automated one of the world’s deadliest jobs. The device, which safely removed landmines, evolved to become Clearpath’s flagship robot: Husky. It was the MME program that brought them together and, to this day, the team continues to support the program and its students.

Fast forward: The MME program today

Given this history, it only makes sense that Clearpath continues to be involved in the university’s MME program. In fact, in March 2015 we sponsored Waterloo’s eighth annual Mechatronics Engineering Capstone Design Symposium, a showcase of 29 final-year student teams that addressed real-world needs by designing original solutions. Chris Pringle, manager of the program, describes the Symposium as “an opportunity for teams of graduating engineers to pool their imaginations to create new products and services as part of their coursework.” The students’ designs covered areas ranging from assistive robotics to green energy.

Clearpath was proud to sponsor (and judge) the “Most Innovative” award, which was presented to GRASP.

GRASP: One-touch bicycle security

The team to take home the title of “Most Innovative” was GRASP. This project tackled a problem so ubiquitous that many don’t even consider a possible solution: bike theft. Their product aims to reduce bicycle theft by creating a one-touch modified U lock that is difficult to compromise, and encourages security through its ease of use. The device uses biometric sensor technology to read the user’s fingerprint quickly, meaning that the cyclist does not need to juggle keys or fight with a stiff lock. Even its shape is innovative. Rather than featuring the typical rounded configuration, GRASP’s square profile means that bolt cutters cannot exert maximum pressure.

The GRASP team points out that bicycling is rapidly growing, with cyclist communities doubling year over year in many urban centers, yet bicycle security has remained unchanged. The team shared that 25% of stolen bicycles are not locked up, primarily because of the hassle of traditional locks. GRASP removes this barrier, as it can be used to lock a bike in a couple of seconds (with one hand)!

Clearpath’s partnership

Pringle emphasizes the importance of industry participation in events like these. “With the help of sponsoring companies like Clearpath Robotics, the teams learn that industry and the Waterloo Region take their work seriously,” he says.

Even setting aside Clearpath’s origins in the University of Waterloo’s Mechatronics program, we’re proud to support these young engineers. The Grasp team is doing innovative work to make the world a safer place – a vision that we also share. Congratulations, Grasp! We couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the symposium!

Here’s the GRASP Team (Liang Yao, Ryan Terpstra, Samson Berhane and Sarbjeet Singh) accepting their award.

To see the ins and outs of the GRASP U lock, check out the short video below:

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