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Component Oriented Development Of Autonomous Mobile Robots Facilitates Interdisciplinary Design

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.137.1 - 4.137.10

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Paper Authors

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W. J. Wiseman

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S. M. Scoggins

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R. D. Michelli

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J. A. Janet

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A. L. Walker

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2220

Component Oriented Development of Autonomous Mobile Robots Facilitates Interdisciplinary Design

R.D. Michelli, S.M. Scoggins, W.J. Wiseman, J.A. Janet, A.L. Walker TMI Robotics, Inc.


Our experience developing mobile robots with groups of undergraduates has shown that while many teams consider their design to be interdisciplinary in nature, the design is in fact fragmented across engineering disciplines. The end result is a project that aggregates various engineering disciplines instead of integrating them into a true multidisciplinary design.

We propose a component-oriented design approach, in which more project time is devoted to system functionality and less to subsystem development. A collection of mechanical, electrical, and software components can be designed or purchased ahead of time independent of a particular project’s needs. These components can then be drawn upon to rapidly develop complex systems. In addition, knowledge and design decisions specific to one particular engineering discipline can be encapsulated in a modular component, allowing the entire design team to address the issues related to component integration.

We have applied this component-oriented design approach to the multidisciplinary design of autonomous mobile robots. Students applying this method have successfully developed an autonomous bipedal walking robot and a more traditional wheeled robot with ultrasonic sonar array, tactile bumper and electronic compass. These projects were designed and completed in a single semester by teams of students. Using previously developed modular actuators, sensors, amplifiers, and software agents allowed early integration of subsystems and left more time for global system design.

I. Introduction

A mobile robot is a complex system that requires multidisciplinary design. Creation of such a system requires the synthesis and cooperation of a multitude of different subsystems. For this reason, the design of a mobile robot is a topic well suited for cross- disciplinary education. It is common for separate engineering schools to collaborate on such a design project; these programs promote interaction between students from differing fields at a technical level. This interaction helps develop the ability to communicate intelligently across engineering disciplines, a skill that will be demanded of students upon entering the workplace.

Wiseman, W. J., & Scoggins, S. M., & Michelli, R. D., & Janet, J. A., & Walker, A. L. (1999, June), Component Oriented Development Of Autonomous Mobile Robots Facilitates Interdisciplinary Design Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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