Ground Breaking Robots


Rowan Roudebush

The Growing Building is a building which comes out of the ground in the order that it will be put together, but each component will be put together in a fantastical way, this is meant to turn a usually mundane groundbreaking ceremony delightful.

The goal of ground breaking ceremony’s are to meet investors and city councilmen. Unfortunately almost all of these ceremony’s are extremely boring, and consist of important people in tuxedo’s with ribbon and a shovel. The goal of my project is to have the groundbreaking ceremony for lot jk in divco west’s north point development, break through the norm for most groundbreaking ceremonies. Having the building come out of the ground will allow people to anticipate what is going to be there, and having it be put together in the order it will be put together in real life but in a fantastic way makes it enjoyable to watch. 

We’re using gears to lift up the floors in a 1:2:3:4 ratio so it looks cool. Then we’re going to have a rod with felt resembling the outside of the building  wrapped around it spring up and attach to the side of the building with magnets. The entire structure is going to spin around and be wrapped in this felt, then confetti canons will go off and everyone will applaud!!

Final Post

Amy Chan and 2 OthersNicholas Browne
Joshua Browne

Final Presentation Sonic

Amy Chan and 2 OthersNicholas Browne
Joshua Browne


Amy Chan

The project is a remote controlled, sonic the hedgehog, inspired ground breaking robot. In past, ground breaking ceremonies are typically boring where the ground breakers are given shovels and dig dirt. To change this image of groundbreakings, creating robots that move dirt can be very exciting and more engaging to the audience. The robot was made by using layered pieces of cardboard, motors, arduinos, and servos. The wheels (that stimulate the movement of the sonic inspired spindash)  are made of stacked cardboard slices that are attached to the motors. The motors are mounted to a wooden board in the center, where it is connected to an arduino. The arduino has a reciever that is connected to the remote controller, where the audience can effect the spinning wheels, and flip a switch to pop out the head and legs of the sonic. This sonic robot is a great way of bringing some nostalgia and fun to the audience at the ground breaking. 


Joshua Browne

If you know what a groundbreaking event is, you know that they are very boring. A group of older people standing around a patch of dirt wearing hard hats and using a fancy shovel to dig into the dirt. Not so entertaining; so we were told to create a robot that might make the groundbreaking not so boring, but in a delightful way.

Sonic The Hedgehog was a very popular game and Sonic is a very popular video game character. Sonic had this one famous move called the Spin Dash. When Sonic would do this move, he would curl up into a ball, rev for a second, then go off speeding throughout the course. So this is where we came up with the idea. It is a remote controlled wheel like thing that takes up the shape of Sonic The Hedgehog's Spin Dash that would roll around on the dirt and also dig holes. Sonic has very spiky hair - his most famous feature -, so we used the idea of having his hair being the shovels around the machine. This robot will serve its purpose - digging dirt -, but also make it very entertaining and delightful for them to watch.


Sina Ball and Julian Slama


Teresa Lourie and Max Ingersoll

The Groundbreaking Bike is an attempt to add delight to the groundbreaking ceremony at the North Point Development in Cambridge and Somerville. A traditional groundbreaking ceremony consists of government officials and executives from the development company lining up with hardhats and often gold-plated shovels, and shoveling some dirt that was dumped in front of them by a dump truck. It is a good way for the company to celebrate the end of the arduous planning stage of creating a building, and the start of the building stage, but the ceremony is very dull for onlookers. The Groundbreaking Bike changes that.

Designed for DivcoWest, The Shovel Bike is a fully-mechanical, bike-powered steampunk digger, which is designed to be ridden at the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2017.  Cambridge and Somerville are known for their large population of avid bikers, as well as their emphasis on sustainability and environmental conservation. The Shovel Bike was designed to represent those values, and show that the North Point development would share those interests and mesh well with the other neighborhoods in those cities.

  When the user bikes, a shovel in front of the front wheel digs in a triangular motion, similar to how a human would dig. This motion consists of thrusting the shovel into the dirt, pulling it out, moving it to the side, and dumping the dirt. The front wheel of the bike is a sprocket, which the bike chain rides on. A gear train is attached to the sprocket, which gears down the pedaling, and increases the angular velocity of the last gear. A bevel, which changes the axis of rotation, is then attached track holding the shovel.


Max Kreppein

The Brief

Manuel Gold

Many modern groundbreaking ceremonies today incredibly boring and  repetitive, the highlight of most being speakers by politicians or a few  mounds of dirt turned over with ceremonial shovels.  Our solution was to provide a fun and  interactive robot that would entertain guests at the ceremony, as well as spice up and do away with the traditional stigma of groundbreakings, one that is boring and pedestrian.

Our project is designed for Divco West, a large real estate company in Boston/Cambridge.  They asked for a robot to perform at the groundbreaking ceremony for their newest project, a lab building at North Point.  They did not give us much more specification than that it should be "delightful".  We explored many options about what could make something delightful, but eventually settled on an anthropomorphic ant that ground-breakers could control and drive around to complete a certain task.

To accomplish these goals we employed TONS of laser-cut wood, as well as cardboard and a significant amount of hot glue.  A set of remote-controllable wheels rested on a bridge along with an Arduino and battery pack.  We also mounted a cardboard shell on top of this to add aesthetic pleasure and disguise the inner workings.  Several legs were also mounted on the bridge.  These were controlled by one continuous motor, rather than several different servos.

Studio Description

Rosa Weinberg

Northpoint, a large track of land at the boundary of Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston is beginning its development. We've been invited to add some spark to its ground breaking. Students will be challenged to design and prototype a robot that can move dirt in a delightful way, has a little bit of a personality, and interacts with the crowd/reacts to external stimuli.