Eyes-on with Cornell University's laser tag dunebots (video)

Cornell University may be the host of the Cornell Cup competition, but that doesn't mean it can't bring its own robots to join in on the fun. This year, students brought along a few bots, dubbed dunebots, outfitted with all-terrain wheels and equipped with laser tag turrets. The rugged rig features a pair of cameras, a dustproof and water resistant chassis, air intakes capped with filters, and other components for suspension and steering. Not only does the team plan on releasing code and documentation for the project, but the hardware was designed with modularity in mind, so others can build their own modified versions.

Taking the robot into battle requires two pilots armed with Xbox 360 controllers: one directing where it travels, and another aiming the turret and firing. Driving the buggy over the web is also possible, though it takes a few seconds for it to react. The group also baked in voice controls, to boot. If you're not watching the car duke it out in person, you can even tune in over the web and watch a live video stream from one of its onboard cams. Its top speeds haven't been firmly nailed down, but the team says the bot was running at approximately 35 percent of its full potential, since it was deemed too fast for conference attendees. Hit the jump to catch us talk with the effort's Computer Science lead Mike Dezube, and to see a dunebot in action.

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Dunebot hands-on