Mobile Robotics

This class was offered my senior year in college. We were divided into teams consisting of mechanical, industrial, and electrical engineers as well as computer science majors. We were lectured on various topics concerning each of the aforementioned specialties and were given projects which would build upon each new topic discussed. Each project consisted of building a mobile robot to perform a given task. I was paired with an industrial engineer as well as a computer scientist which worked out perfectly. Without a mechanical engineer to hog all of the fun, I got to design and build most all of our projects myself while the other two focused on code and strategy. To complete the projects, we were each given a set of Lego Mindstorms pieces, access to the lab containing spare parts, and an XBC robot controller.

Project 1

The first task was to create a Rune Goldberg device to catch a mouse in a trap. This assignment was aimed at getting us used to working as a team as well as learning how to use the XBC. We were actually the only group to use non-lego parts for this project.

Project 2

The next task was to create a way-point traveling robot. A set of coordinates would be given, and the robot must be able to arrive at the desired location. The robot achieves this by recording where it is in relation to an origin point at all times. Distance traveled is measured by used by comparing the wheel diameter and number of rotations. A marker is used to track the robot as it moves across a dry-erase board.

Extra credit was also awarded if the robot could draw a shape of exact dimensions upon request. Although a camera is seen in the picture, no external sensors were used.

Project 3

The robot created in project 2 was given new abilities for our next task. It must be able to hear a 1kHz tone generated somewhere withing the playing field, find the source, and travel to within a few inches of what is making the noise. The boundaries of the playing field are marked with a thick strip of black vinyl tape. Crossing this line would result in a very bad grade.

The premise of this exercise was meant to mimic a type of rescue bot which is able to find a victim based on sound and travel in that direction for extraction or map planning purposes. This robot used microphones and light sensors.

Project 4

For project 4, a robot was created to circumnavigate an unknown area. The robot must enter each room of the arena as well as climb a 20 degree incline to get to an upper level before exiting, all while wirelessly transmitting data back to a host in order to create a map of the arena. Extra credit would be given if the robot was able to find, pick up, and move an object as well.

Two new bots were created to perform the tasks at hand, and all of the project goals were met.

Project 5

In the final challenge, we had to combine everything we had done and learned so far. The robot had to be able to navigate the arena used in project 4, search for "victims," ask if they were OK, listen to the response, and wirelessly transmit the status of each victim back to the home base as well as update the map with obstacle and victim coordinates.

We ended up building two bots that communicated wirelessly to coordinate the search and rescue. The larger bot had the job of climbing the incline to the second level and removing victims from the arena once the sentry bot found their locations and determined their health status.