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Showing posts from October, 2012

Challenge On!!

NASA has announced the Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge is ON for June 2013. It is again a Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The rules appear to be basically the same as the June 2012 challenge. Prizes are similar but there are $500 awards for showing up with a competitive robot and another if the robot picks up the cached sample. I'll read the rules more carefully to see if anything else is changed.

Now I have to decide if I can do this on my own. The registration deadline is 7 January 2013 which gives me ten weeks to answer all the open questions.

I did order a Dagu Wild Thumper 6WD from the Robot Shop. Should be here next Monday.

I have two Pololu Simple Motor Controllers that I bought during a sale last November. I worked with a Pololu Maestro Servo Controller with my iRobot Create so have the basic Pololu control protocol working with a C++ Maestro class. In the last couple days I added a PololuSimple class, and a PololuBase class to generalize between the Maestro and …

Thinking About the Challenge - Hardware

Continuing my summary of thought over the last few weeks, I'll consider the hardware platform. This is not the final platform for the challenge. There are two major issues that need to be settled:

Swarm or singleton,Picker and, related, storage of samples on the robot. 
Despite those uncertainties I need an outdoor capable platform to start work on the software tasks discussed in the previous article. One of the interesting ones I'd like to accomplish is proceeding to a potential sample. Keeping the vision processing on the sample while driving the robot is, hopefully, non-trivial but requires a lot of detail chasing. The work on the vision processing should help my understanding of how to locate samples.

The requirements for the robot are:

Capable of driving in a park type setting, e.g. no major rocky areas, some obstacles like trees and benches.Large enough to carry:One or two cameras, possibly on a 1-2 meter tall mast,A PC class system with Wifi,A prototype picker (thinking …

Thinking About the Challenge - Software

Despite nothing appearing here for awhile I have been thinking about the SRR Challenge. I had a week in Mexico and a week with a cold that kept me from writing. Now I am back to making some progress. I'll summarize some of the thoughts, possible plans, etc. No additional analysis, but there are some things that need to be looked at based on my thoughts.

As I look at hobby robot builders web sites I've concluded that most build a nice piece of hardware that doesn't really accomplish anything real. I've seen some beautiful robots that are the delight of machinists. But there is no mention of any software driving them that makes them meaningful. As I looked at the robots from the 2012 SRR Challenge competition I wonder how many of them spent many hours on the hardware and let the software go until the last minute.

I know from experience in embedded systems development that the hardware is always late. Since there are limits to what can be accomplished in software when you…

Another NASA Rover

Stumbled on this NASA rover in this article on an Lagrange L2 point space station being considered. NASA Ames is using the rover to test teleoperation. A station at the L2 point would be directly behind the moon from the earth. Astronauts could use teleoperated robots to study the backside of the moon.

[Lagrange points are stable locations caused by the gravity fields of an object orbiting another object, in this case the Earth and Moon. An object at a Lagrange point is held in place by the gravity fields. See Wikipedia for more details.]

Anyone have more information on this rover?