Skip to main content

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 new class, and can now talk to the Simple Controller. Those two controllers will go onto the Thumper. Their amperage rating is marginal for those motors but should be okay as long as there aren't any sudden reversals in direction.

I will probably use the Maestro to handle servos either for the picker or positioning cameras.

Oy vey! Lots to think about in a short period of time.

The more I looked at the Thumper the more I liked the idea of a swarm based on it as the platform. I added some additional analysis tonight to the swarm section and have at least one more page to finish on communications. I am focusing on a swarm of two searcher and five collector robots. There is a lot to recommend this, as some of the analysis shows, but it does introduce some complexity by requiring communications and replicating that many robots. A big advantage in using the Thumper is removing the basic locomotion capability from the design.


Popular posts from this blog

Cold Turkey on Linux

I bit the bullet a few weeks ago with Linux. I was getting ready to go to WPI for the SRR competition and decided to go cold turkey on my laptop. I put in a SSD and loaded Zorin Linux. It us recommended as a substitute for Win XP. One reason I liked it is the rolling upgrades instead of the Ubuntu staged upgrades.

There was still frustration. The WiFi did not work so I used the software updater to install the drivers it found from Broadcom. The OS would not boot after that. I reinstalled just before leaving and took the memory stick with the Zorin Live distro with me figuring I could always reload from it. I was impressed by the quickness of the installation. That encouraged me since if I messed up the laptop I could always quickly reinstall. I also had my iPad so accessing email, FB, and Twitter (I did a lot of tweeting with photos) were always available. 
I kept busy so it was not until Friday night up in VT to visit my sister that I had time to do much with the laptop. I cannot reca…

Sensor - Accelerometer & Magnetics

Just as I was finishing my first look at the accelerometer and magnetic field sensors a couple of threads cropped up on the Android Developer's group:

http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_frm/thread/1b42c48ce47cb1c9/720c6f4f8a40fc67#720c6f4f8a40fc67

http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_frm/thread/2e14272d72b7ab4f#

I had the basic code working so dug a little deeper into the rotation routines and the timing. I posted responses on the threads but want here to dig into the details more.

First some observations applicable to my G1:

The sensors report approximetly every 20, 40 and 220 msec for FAST, GAME, and NORMAL.
A sample may be missed for a specific sensor but usually one of them will be generated - but sometimes all can be missed.
The magnetic field sensor is most reliable with only a few drops. The other sensors are dropped considerably more often.

A caveat in all this is the way I setup the sensor handling may make a difference. I have a singl…

The Autonomous Roboticist

Since September 2016 I've been competing in the NASA Space Robotics Centennial Challenge (SRC). The challenge had a qualifying period and the final competition. I was one of the twenty teams from an international pool who qualified for the final competition. In mid-June the competitors ran their entries on a simulation in the cloud. The last few days, June 28 -30th capped the competition with a celebration at Space Center Houston, an education and entertainment facility next to the NASA Johnson Space Center.

On Thursday, the 29th, teams were invited to give presentations to the other teams, the NASA people who organized the challenge, and others. I used the opportunity to speak about my approach to the competition but also to raise the question of how an amateur roboticist, like myself, can make a meaningful contribution to robotics. 
Two ways are through competitions like this and by contributing software to the Robot Operating System (ROS). There aren't always competitions …