The 2017 Hackaday Prize challenge launched just a few months ago, charging participants to create something that makes a positive difference in the world. It’s always interesting to follow the multi-tiered competition, now in its fourth year, that Hackaday puts on. The Hackaday Prize asks hackers and makers to “Build Something that Matters” in a series of five challenges, each of which lasts a total of six weeks. You can participate in just one round, or all five if you wish, or even just enter an idea into the Best Product category independently.

The first design competition round, ‘Design your concept,’ ended on May 1st, and tasked contestants with presenting a problem, as well as a concept for a device that solves it. The ‘IUT! IoT’ round ended on June 12th, and participants had to design an IoT device that helps build a better future, like providing clean water or reducing energy usage. ‘Wheels, Wings, and Walkers’ ended on July 24th, and invited contestants to build moving devices that would help propel humanity forward. ‘Assistive technologies,’ which asks participants to design something to make life easier for someone with a disability, is currently running, and ‘Anything goes,’ which begins on September 4th, gives designers free reign to design anything, as long as it improves the world in some way.

Recently, Hackaday announced the 20 winners, each of whom was awarded $1,000 for their project, of the ‘Wheels, Wings, and Walkers’ portion of this year’s Hackaday prize.

“We were looking for the next generation of robots, drones, machines that make machines move, and hackers who now know far too much about inverse kinematics. The results were spectacular,” Hackaday wrote.

There were hundreds of entries for this round, by people who wanted to introduce their designs for a device that could change the world.

“The entries in this round of the Hackaday Prize are exactly what we’re looking for in the Wheels, Wings, and Walkers challenge,” Hackaday wrote. “There were ships and submarines, projects that use drones in novel ways, interesting flying platforms, projects that are destined for the next generation of open robotics, and projects that just barely move very precisely.”

Designers in this round had to build something that moves, whether it jumped, flew, crawled, spun, or walked; the ideas suggested by Hackaday included bicycles and wheelchairs for all shapes and sizes, and environmental drones. Contestants had to include their idea, discussing the challenge, how their project could help alleviate or solve the problem addressed by the challenge, and how their project might actually be world-changing. They had to publish at least one image illustrating how the project could be used, and link to any repositories. Designers also had to include at least four Project Logs or Instructions updates on their Project Profile, and document all open source licenses, permissions, and any applicable third-party licenses/restrictions.

The winners produced some fascinating designs, like the ALICE: Robotic Exoskeleton by Guillermo Herrera-Arcos, the first easy-to-build, open source robotic exoskeleton in the world that costs less than $1,000, and the Staircane by Jim, which “complements the design of a standard walker device with extendable front or back legs so that it can be used on stairways.”

There’s also n3m0 the autonomous boat by Mike Holden – this robotic boat was designed to be 3D printed in sections, and is able to carry oceanographic sensors to help people understand more about their local waterways. I also like SafeRanger by Varun Suresh, a miniature, semi-autonomous diagnostic tank, controlled by Bluetooth, that can monitor valve heating with a thermal camera and monitor gas leaks in power plants. But my favorite has to be Pablo Odysseus by Ulysse, an autonomous rover equipped with a rake, which it uses to draw large pieces of artwork in the sand.

In addition to the projects already named, the winners of the ‘Wheels, Wings, and Walkers’ challenge, in no particular order, are:

Don’t forget, there are still two more challenges for this year’s Hackaday Prize – the ‘Assistive Technologies’ round runs until September 4th. After the last round, ‘Anything Goes,’ ends on October 16th, a total of 120 projects will advance to the finals for a chance to win the $50,000 grand prize. Discuss in the Hackaday Prize forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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