Kevin Harrington is a Co-Founder of Neuron Robotics and a co-inventor of the Bowler Communications System
Kevin's interest in robotics came originally as an interest in animatronics, from watching a television show called Movie Magic. The show dovetailed well with Kevin’s interests, for he was already making his own toys, making Star Wars uniforms for GI Joe action figures and attempting to re-create the four-legged walker from the film, The Empire Strikes Back.
He still has some of his earlier creations, from a found motor which he figured out how to turn on and off — long before he had ever used a computer — to GI Joe parts held together with hot glue, and a remote controlled airplane controller. In his Freshman year of High School he “ran into a wall of control” and so his dreams of creating went on hold as he shifted gears (quite literally) and began making bicycles, including a six and one-half foot long chopper bike cannibalized from six different cycles.
Kevin started off in Mechanical Engineering, but switched after two years when he determined that he could work in controlling, the very problem he had fought in High School. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), from which he is about to graduate with distinction. His background involves not only robotics but he once worked as a Data Wrangler for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. He was, essentially, in the right place at the right time. However, animatronics was on its way out, so he veered away from puppeteering and more into robotics.
His Major Qualifying Project at WPI was with telepresencce robotics. He had to build the infrastructure from scratch and there was no time to make the application. He compared notes with Bob — who had virtually the same problem — and they discussed how to do things differently. This was back in August of 2008, and Kevin “banged out a little board to talk to Ethernet”. This was the beginning of Neuron Robotics. The prototype was a “rat’s nest of wires with a few LEDs”. But it was a start.
In addition to his developmental work for Neuron Robotics, he also works with Professor Fisher at WPI in order to develop software for an MRI-compatible robot.
His work with Neuron Robotics has been varied. It includes:
- Designing and implementing the DyIO firmware
- Designing and implementing the NR Boot-loader firmware and application
- Developing the Bowler Communication System (BCS) in conjunction with Robert Breznak and Alex Camilo.
For Kevin, the best part of the process is seeing something he and the rest of the company has developed being used by someone else in order to save them time and effort. He likes seeing this solving the problem that he and Bob had years ago. The hours are long but there is an ultimate goal in sight.
Kevin says it best. "Don't think about me, think about the stuff that I do." This includes not only a pending patent for the DyIO, but also a paper for the 2010 ISER (International Symposium on Experimental Robotics) Conference.