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Controlling A Mobile Robot With A Personal Digital Assistant

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.300.1 - 6.300.5



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Robert Avanzato

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

Session 2620

Controlling a Mobile Robot with a Personal Digital Assistant

Robert L. Avanzato Penn State Abington


Penn State Abington has been exploring the application of personal digital assistant (PDA) technology to the control of autonomous mobile robots. The PDA is an inexpensive, handheld computer that supports a wide range of mobile software applications, and features serial and infrared communication capabilities. Undergraduate students have participated in an applied research effort to develop PDA-controlled autonomous robots for several robot design competitions. One of the innovative aspects of the handheld-based robot is that the technology allows students to enter and modify software directly on the handheld computer. This feature is particularly useful in environments where conventional desktop and laptop computers are not conveniently available. This paper will describe the architecture of the robots and discuss the educational benefits of the handheld approach to mobile robot control.

1.0 Introduction

Starting in the fall of 1999, Penn State Abington has been actively exploring the integration of Palm™ [1] handheld computers (personal digital assistants) into select undergraduate courses in the areas of Information Sciences and Technology, computer engineering, French language instruction, and mobile robot design. The personal digital assistant (PDA) is a handheld, mobile computer that supports database, spreadsheet, document viewing, graphics, programming, and web-browsing software. Additionally, the PDA features both serial and infrared communication capabilities. The primary focus of these integration efforts is to promote active and collaborative learning in the classroom and laboratory settings, and to explore enhancements and efficiencies in the delivery of instruction [2]. A team of sophomore computer science majors at Penn State Abington participated in a research effort in the spring of 2000 to explore the application of personal digital assistant technology to mobile robot design and operation. There were three major thrusts to the experimental work. In the first area of investigation, the Palm unit was utilized as a programmable IR remote controller used to direct and program the motion of existing mobile robots. The emphasis here was to design a meaningful graphical user interface on the Palm PDA to effectively control a mobile robot. The second area of investigation explored the application of the Palm PDA as a terminal emulator to communicate with a mobile robot via a serial connection. Commands could be issued to the robot, and data that was collected by the robot can be

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Avanzato, R. (2001, June), Controlling A Mobile Robot With A Personal Digital Assistant Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9041

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