Robots, Chaz and Ada, will soon roam the halls of Chase


Have you heard about Chaz and Ada, Lakeland’s computer science program’s newest additions? No, they aren’t humans – they are, in fact, robots that stand 23 inches tall. NAO (pronounced now) Robots to be specific.

Thanks to a grant from the Ruth St. John & John Dunham West Foundation, the computer science program was able to purchase the two robots.

“It’s great,” said Cynthia Lindstrom, assistant professor of computer science. “We would have never been able to afford it otherwise. It’s very generous of them.”

Chaz, who is blue, and Ada, who is red, were purchased from the Aldebaran company for $8,000 apiece plus licensing fees, which costs $250 for one license. The licensing fee allows the robots to be programmed.

Their names come from Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, two pioneer computer scientists and they have been at Lakeland since the start of the semester. Through C++ and Python, the two programming languages that they recognize, the robots are being given their own personalities.

In charge of the programming are Rainger Rossway and Andrew Koerber, two student interns who were given the time-consuming task. Rossway and Koerber have also had to teach themselves how to program the robots from scratch, since there is no handbook.

“I have been incredibly happy with this opportunity to gain knowledge,” said Rossway. “Working with the NAO robots has been amazing; every day my partner, Andrew, and I see more and more progress. We’re giving life to Ada and Chaz, making their actions random, fluent and seemingly natural.”

At the moment, Rossway and Koerber are working on face recognition software so Chaz and Ada can recognize them and, eventually, other people.

“It’s not a toy [though],” said Lindstrom. “It doesn’t come out and you push a button and it does stuff. They have to work hard to get it to do just the smallest of things.”

At the moment, Chaz and Ada are still in the beginning stages, but, according to Lindstrom, eventually they will be able to interact with the world randomly and with each other. This will allow them to walk around Chase and interact with the students.

In addition, students will be able to program them to do a variety of different tasks. Some of the tasks that the robots can do include writing, dancing, playing games and picking up and putting things away.

“It’s what the students want to do with them,” said Lindstrom. “It’s innovation for the students.”

There is also a class in the works called Artificial Intelligence that will revolve around the robots.

According to Lindstrom, the robots put Lakeland on a level field with other schools. The only Wisconsin schools she knows of that are using robots are Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Chaz and Ada will also be used as a recruiting tool for incoming students.

“[This is] a whole different ballgame, but I think it really is going to help our students in the classroom to innovate and think,” said Lindstrom.

To follow the progress of Chaz and Ada, check out their Facebook page at Lakeland College Computer Science Robotics. The Mirror will also be following their progress so stay tuned to our Facebook page and website ( for information.