June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
This paper presents a course project assignment in an upper-division engineering course: Controls and Optimizations. Students were divided into groups to build robots which are capable of navigating autonomously indoors. It is a perfect vehicle to integrate electrical, computer, and mechanical knowledge into a mechatronics system. In particular, after the mechanical and electrical design were finished, the students wrote control software to use feedback from ultrasonic sensors and Wi-Fi modules to enable autonomous operation. Each powered by a Raspberry Pi, the robots competed against each other autonomously to play an indoor Bocce game. The jack of the game was a wireless router, and the goal of the robots was to get as close to the jack as possible while not hitting any obstacles. This project and the Bocce game also have practical implications in real-world applications. For example, robots with similar capabilities may be able to rescue people who carry wireless device, to navigate in factories or warehouses to retrieve items, and to lead customers to certain items in supermarkets. In this paper, we will present the electrical, mechanical, and software design of the winning team of the Bocce game. The bill of materials and details of the Bocce game will also be included.
On the educational front, we discuss a couple of efforts we made to help the students build, program, and test the robots: (i) we design an introductory LAB to introduce Raspberry Pi to our students and (ii) we utilize project-based learning techniques to encourage the students to learn new things along the way.
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