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A Matlab Toolbox for the USB Intellitek Scorbot

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Computational Tools

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.61.1 - 22.61.15



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Paper Authors

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Joel Esposito U.S. Naval Academy

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Carl E. Wick U.S. Naval Academy


Kenneth A. Knowles U.S. Naval Academy

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Professor Emeritus
Weapons and Systems Engineering

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A Matlab toolbox for the USB Intellitek Scorbot: a new open source educational robotics development library for direct Matlab to Scorbot controlAbstract:For the past two decades, the Intellitek Scorbot has been one of the most widely usedarticulated robots, designed specifically for the educational market (universities andtechnical schools). Older versions of the robot came with a control box that could beconnected to a personal computer via an RS232 serial port. A set of simple ASCIIcommands, called ScorBase, were provided by the manufacturer to control the robot.While RS232 data transfer rates can be slow, the old architecture had two mainadvantages. First, the interface was driverless – allowing it to be platform independent.Therefore the robot could be controlled by any PC or microcomputer with a serialinterface. Second, the relatively simple ASCII commands were programming languageindependent making it easy to develop open source libraries to control the robot from avariety of high level programming languages such as C, C++, or Python. In particular theauthors had many years of experience using Matlab as the development environment ofchoice in their classes. This is especially useful since educational robots are rarely standalone systems. In particular they are frequently interfaced with existing image processingor path planning software, which may be written in some of these higher level languages.The latest model of the Scorbot (EU-4) is no longer controlled through an RS232 typeserial link. The new PC interface is a USB, which provides superior data transfer rates,but requires a proprietary driver to control the robot. We found that Matlab could notdirectly accept the provided driver software.This paper describes the development and use of a new Matlab Toolbox for the IntellitekScorbot (MTIS), which provides a series of seamless, highlevel Matlab functions tocontrol the Scorbot directly. Here, we detail our detective work on reverse engineeringprovided DLL files, and our re-invention of communications methods for the new USBinterface. We then describe all the commands in the toolbox. Next we benchmark theperformance of the new Toolbox, which proved superior in many aspects to our previousRS232 interface.In the final part of the paper we discuss how this toolbox is used for development andinstruction within our robotics laboratory -- providing example exercises from ourundergraduate robotics laboratory. We conclude by sharing results from a usabilitysurvey we conducted from a test group of over 50 users.

Esposito, J., & Wick, C. E., & Knowles, K. A. (2011, June), A Matlab Toolbox for the USB Intellitek Scorbot Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17343

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