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Robotic Laser Tag: A Capstone Design Experience

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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

Capstone Design Projects in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1262.1 - 22.1262.14



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Paper Authors


James K. Archibald Brigham Young University

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James K. Archibald received the B.S. degree (summa cum laude) in mathematics from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, in 1981, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1983 and 1987, respectively. Since 1987, he has been with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Brigham Young University. His current research interests include robotics and multiagent systems. Dr. Archibald is a member of the IEEE, ACM, and Phi Kappa Phi.

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Doran K. Wilde Brigham Young University

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Dr. Wilde started his career as an electrical engineer in Oregon where he worked 12 years in industry doing microprocessor design. In 1990, he began graduate studies at Oregon State University, where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science in 1993 and 1995, respectively. In 1995, he joined the faculty in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Brigham Young University where he is currently serving as an associate professor. Dr. Wilde has taught a wide range of computer and electrical engineering courses and has been involved in new computer engineering course development. He has been actively engaged in research in the fields of computer arithmetic, application specific systems and architectures, and autonomous vehicles. Dr. Wilde is a senior member of the IEEE and is the father of seven children and eleven grandchildren.

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Robotic Laser Tag: A Capstone Design Experience We describe a senior design project in which teams of electrical and computerengineering students design and implement hardware and software modules that allow anoff-the-shelf RC vehicle to operate autonomously using only on-board sensors andcomputational resources, including a custom FPGA board. We highlight the technicaldetails of the project in its current form, in which custom laser-tag modules andassociated infrastructure allow the autonomous agents to play a simplified version ofcapture-the-flag. The hardware and software resources required to provide essentialfunctionality in the project’s current form are described in detail. The project leveragesmany years of departmental experience involving autonomous, visually controlledvehicles, both on the ground and in the air. Projects involving autonomous robots areideally suited as culminating design experiences because of the technical challenges ofcreating vision, control, and communication subsystems that meet desired performancemetrics and that can be efficiently integrated into a working ensemble. While the specificrequirements of vehicle operation typically are changed with each offering of the seniorproject course, the scope of the required work is always such that a multidisciplinaryteam is necessary to complete it. We describe the overall structure of the department’s senior project course thatoffers multiple technical projects sharing a common project management framework. Wedetail the course competencies – specific, measurable skills and knowledge connected tolearning outcomes for our degree programs – associated with the senior project course,and we assess how well the robotic laser tag project meets these expectations. For thetechnical portion of the class, we describe how the project is organized and theinfrastructure that has led to success for the vast majority of participating teams. Thisinfrastructure includes teaching assistants; technical documentation; an open source, web-based project management and bug-tracking tool (Trac); simulation tools; and thesequence of lab assignments and milestones that helps each team build and integrate therequired system components. We highlight a newly devised leadership component that isbeing integrated into the course. As a group, we discuss leadership qualities andprinciples, and students nominate each other when they encounter examples of leadershipover the semester. Students receiving a leadership citation are recognized by the class andreceive a small token of appreciation, such as a candy bar. We describe our experiences, both positive and negative, in the first year of thelaser tag project, including the role the students played in completing the design of thecustom laser tag modules. Our long-term plans for this project are discussed. Othercompetitions are considered for which the current operational platform would be wellsuited. Finally, we propose the creation of an international tournament involving smallvision-guided autonomous vehicles, patterned after high-profile contests using full-sizevehicles but suited for the participation of undergraduate student teams.

Archibald, J. K., & Wilde, D. K. (2011, June), Robotic Laser Tag: A Capstone Design Experience Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18539

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