The Mechanical Hound: Carlisle Purchases Two New Robots for Coding Classes

Alex Landis, Student Life Editor

The speculation about Carlisle’s new robot has been rampant on Snapchat and text chains building-wide.  Is it a vape detector?  Dr. Parrillo’s dog, immortalized in a machine? Can it take down a student? Is it housebroken?  If you’ve heard any of these rumors, rest assured: they’re not true. Periscope is here to clear up any misconceptions and hit you with the facts about our newest “canine” additions. 

Recently, Dr. Parillo, who’s the head of the technology program here at CHS, purchased two robots for the career and tech programs, affectionately known as Salt and Pepper. 

The pair will be a valuable and adorable addition to our lineup of machines used for coding classes.  Dr. Parillo, who has been the dog’s sole operator thus far, has also dispelled any rumors surrounding the dog or any functionalities it may or may not have.  

“The students will use them to learn about mechanical level 1 AI, so they’ll be able to program the robot using Javascript or Java, or C++ . . . the main part really is understanding how to control a machine to have it do what you want it to do.” Dr. Parillo said. 

Salt’s full name is A1 Go Robot, a tier one/mechanical AI, which is “smart” enough to balance itself, but not to think for itself. Each robot comes with a set of tasks that have been pre-programmed into it by the manufacturer. Students will be able to program it to do a plethora of physical tasks and new tricks using its flexible and sturdy legs. 

This type of level 1 AI can be found in many robots that are currently used in a number of different industries, making students with these skills more marketable employees when they graduate. Dr. Parillo noted that robots like these are being used “by the military, police, and even in medical fields.”  Most notably, The Davinci Robot, which features mechanical arms that perform surgery, uses the same type of AI that students in coding classes will learn to use through their interactions with Salt. 

Technology like this is expensive, but Dr. Parillo was able to use a state subsidy to purchase Salt and a grant to purchase Pepper.  He noted that “we couldn’t just take the funds out of the budget [because of the excessive cost]. We get subsidies because we have career and tech programs, that’s what makes us unique. We have 11 programs and we have 640 kids in our programs so that helps us get more money.” 

Students enrolled in classes such as Honors Engineering, Computer Science, Raspberry Pi, and other coding classes will be able to program the robot and repair it when it needs repairs. Teachers will be trained in how to use the dog over the summer, with the first availability for student use of these robots occurring next year. 

All in all, Salt doesn’t do anything that our student body speculated it could, but it’ll always be able to learn new tricks thanks to several generations of computer programmers and the dedication and innovation of Carlisle’s administration, teachers, and students. 

Pepper is due to arrive in May, and Periscope staffer Alex Landis will complete a podcast interview with the Tier II AI (which can talk)! Stay tuned!