Southside Automated Machines -- SAM Team

Help boost K-12 science, math, and computer education. Donate your obsolete Android phone to us (see below)! We promise to put it to good use in a classroom.


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SAM Sr. Robot Info

SAM Sr.'s Past

SAM is a retired FIRST Robotics competitor. He was built by the UpStaRT team (now called EnTech or simply team 281) with the sponsorship of Michelin and competed in the 2001 First Robotics event.

In his previous role as SAM Sr. was a crowd pleaser but not for his athletic skill. He originally had a large basket for carrying balls attached to a telescoping neck that could lift the basket 12 ft off the ground. Unfortunately, with the  heavily loaded basket raised to great heights, SAM Sr. was prone to tipping over in a dramatic crowd-pleasing manner.

After his retirement from competition, Team 281 donated SAM Sr. to Southside and we spent a year modifying him as shown in the above picture. 

SAM Sr. was refitted with a new skin made of an aluminum and plywood composite that substantially reinforced his somewhat weak frame. His basket was replaced with a shiny new complete with a TV camera eye, an artificial ear, and a speaker so that he can communicate with everyone and share his wisdom. Alas, he lost his two arms, but they could only move up and down. Besides, they had no grippers.

Sam Sr. has made multiple personal appearances at Roper Mountain Science Center as a science education ambassador and numerous appearances at Southside High School.

These days, SAM Sr. is semi-retired but is about to be reactivated with Android phones for his control system.


SAM Sr.'s  New Mission

  • To help young people get excited about potential careers in engineering,
  • To demonstrate basic principles taught in math and science classes
  • To act as a test platform for developing new mobile robotic manipulators and control systems.

SAM Sr. at Work



At right, SAM Sr. makes an appearance on engineering day at Roper Mountain Science Center along with Mr. Rogers.


SAM Sr.'s  Latest Modifications

Hopefully one day SAM Sr. will get arms but for now we're modifying him to be controlled with Android phones. His previous controller was part of his original equipment as a FIRST competitor and contained a very limited amount of "brain-power". A single Android phone boosts this power by several orders of magnitude and opens up many new possibilities.

So, after being modified, SAM Sr. will be a virtual genius compared to his previous lack of intelligence. Besides, operating a 7 ft tall robot with an Android phone is just plain cool.


SAM Sr.'s head, about to get an IQ boost

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Android Phone Donations
When your Android phone contract runs out and you want to upgrade, please consider donating the old one to us. To donate an Android contact Tom Rogers at We promise to put you donated phone to good use in both our computer science and physics our class rooms (see possible application at right).

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