Neil's UPM Chess Demo


Using Dan's Universal Planar Manipulator, I created a mini chess game that moves pieces without any human interaction (other than putting the pieces on the board and pressing the "start" button).


By moving no less than 6 objects in a complicated pattern at the same time, this demo really shows how much control the UPM has over objects on its surface. Moreover, the objects being moved are 3D (ie, not flat like the coins used in previous demos). The ability to move a large number of 3D objects in complicated patterns is a definite requirement for most practical applications and this shows that the UPM meets these needs.

The pieces

chess piece graphic The chess pieces were taken from a "Family Classics" chess set that I purchased at a local Target store. They are light-weight and made of plastic. To keep them from wabbling I affixed metal washers to each piece. I also added felt padding to create a good surface for sliding.

The board

The chess board is a 6x6 grid instead of the standard 8x8.

The moves

Here is the sequence of moves performed in the demo. In the initial state there are 6 pieces: the white king, a white bishop, a white rook, the black king, a black bishop, and a black knight.

Initial state

Move 1 - Black King Moves

Move 2 - W. Bishop Captures B. Bishop

Move 3 - B. Knight Moves

Move 4 - W. King Moves

Move 5 - B. King Moves

Move 6 - W. King Captures B. Knight

Move 7 - B. King Moves

Move 8 - W. King Moves

Move 9 - B. King Moves

Move 10 - W. Rook Moves (Checkmate)

UPM in action

Here is a picture taken from the UPM's GUI interface and ultimately from the overhead camera. Notice the red circles surrounding each piece, indicating the software knows of their whereabouts.

Picture from GUI

Here are some videos of the chess demo in action.

  • Filmed by external camera (speed-up factor 6x):
        Mpeg [ 2.58MB ]
  • , Windows Media Format [ 56kbps ] [ 250kbps ]
  • Filmed by external camera (speed-up factor 1x, abridged):
        Mpeg [ 2.03MB ]
  • , Windows Media Format [ 56kbps ] [ 250kbps ]
  • Filmed by overhead camera (unknown speed-up factor):
        Mpeg [ 1.27MB ]
  • , Windows Media Format [ 56kbps ] [ 250kbps ]
  • Filmed by overhead camera w/overlaid chess-board:
        Mpeg [ 1.29MB ]
  • , Windows Media Format [ 56kbps ] [ 250kbps ]
Note: Windows Media Format requires Windows Media Player, available here.

Special thanks to Robert Cicconetti for the overlaid chess-board view!

Some still pictures of the UPM in action can be found here.

Page created by Neil Alldrin, <>