Campus News in Brief

Playground explores theater

For one week each school year, student directors, designers, actors, technicians, and playwrights in the School of Drama collaborate on more than 40 student-run productions to produce Playground: A Festival of Independent Student Work.
The festival, which completed its seventh year this past week, offers student actors and producers the opportunity to create their own productions outside of normal classroom requirements and guidelines. One week’s worth of rehearsals and preparations culminated in performances and events staged throughout campus.
The events varied across disciplines represented within the School of Drama. They included dramatic and musical performances, installations, mural projects, and light shows.
Student productions include performances of One Thousand Paper Cranes, The Obsolete Man, PigPen presents: “The Nightmare Story,” and Parting Shots from the Musical Theatre Canon.
Projects developed by students for Playground have gone on to be produced in other venues across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, and at various theater festivals.
For more information, including a video trailer of the week’s events, please visit

Robot named most durable

One of Carnegie Mellon’s newest technologies — a robot called “Dragon Runner” — has been named the world’s most durable robot, according to the collaborators creating the 2010 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Dragon Runner is a small robot that can be used for surveillance in urban areas. The rugged robot has four wheels and is 15 inches long, less than a foot wide, and five inches in height. At only nine pounds, it is light enough to be carried in a backpack or thrown. It is also able to be powered by military batteries, making it ideal for areas with little to no electricity.

Dragon Runner is being tested in Iraq, acting as the “eyes” for U.S. Marines, as it can see around corners and deliver real-time imagery.

Dragon Runner was developed by Hagen Schempf, head systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Twelve early examples of Dragon Runner, built by Carnegie Mellon spin-off Automatika Inc., were delivered to the Marines in 2004. Today, several models of Dragon Runner are now produced commercially by QinetiQ .

For more information about Dragon Runner, including a video of Dragon Runner in action, visit