Almost done with his degree in mechanical engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student Josh Eckels had the inspiration to put what he learned to the test by creating an AI-powered robot that plays chess against a human opponent. It is basically a cube made from aluminum extrusions that are placed at right angles and have a large chessboard at its base. A gantry is located at the top, made from a few metal rods with timing belts. This allows the X axis to be moved and the grabbing mechanism to be placed in the right positions.
The grabber was moved by four stepper motors. One for the X and another for the Z axes. A motor that spins a rod to lift it, and one that rotates to open and close it. These motors are connected to a central Arduino with a CNC shield. This cable connects to the Raspberry Pi using Stockfish’s chess engine.
Stockfish is an excellent chess engine. It keeps track of the current game state and makes moves according the skill level. It becomes almost impossible for a human to beat it at the higher ranges. The player chooses where they want their piece to be placed on the screen. After that, the robot will pick it up and place its pieces elsewhere. The engine then makes its move.
You can read more about this project here and check out its demo below!