Boy Scouts of America - Robo Knot

How to get boy scouts excited about science and technology

“What can you make to get Boy Scouts excited about science and technology?”

That was the question from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) looking to draw people into the Discovery Outpost of the Woodfield Mall.  “How about a robot guided by your hands that ties knots,” we said.  That conversation resulted in “Robo-Knot,” the BSA knot tying robot.

The robots are controlled using input from the Leap Motion Controller, a USB sensor.  Hand movements are converted into a network of coordinate positions which control robot movements.  The user interface also uses these points and swipes like a touch screen.  Pinchers at the ends of the robot arms are activated by pinching together the index finger and thumb.

The hardest and most innovative part is making sure two very expensive and powerful robots don’t crash into each other!  Click on the video below to see the Robo-Knot interactive mode in action.


In addition to the interactive mode, this machine automatically ties 5 favorite scout knots: square, sheet bend, bowline, double overhand, and figure eight.  Finally a robot that can earn Tenderfoot!  Rope is cut to length and seared by the automatic dispensing station which is built into the robot base.

Start the video below to watch the double overhand knot.


The Robo-Knot has been a hit with kids and scouts of all ages.  Although great for troop meetings, at more than 1000 lbs we don’t recommend taking it on hikes or campouts.  If you have an idea for a project let us know about it in the form below.

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