Aug 29, 2017 – Meeting Notes

At tonight’s meeting, the Drive and Sensor teams began to move from the requirements we worked out last week, to early design sketches.

The Drive team began with some exploration of existing drive systems, with a priority of keeping cost and complexity low. Our preliminary requirements call for a simple differential drive system, which provides linear motion and turning. However, we were reluctant to give up lateral movement capability. If possible (and practical), we’d like to adapt a proven drive system to connect with a standard interface of our own design. This modularity would permit us to swap drive systems easily, enabling future upgrades as well as potentially helping us to meet our single-part weight constraints. If we do not find a suitable existing drive system to adapt, we’ll consider building either a two-swerve + two-caster system, or a ball drive.

On the Sensor team, specific types of sensors were selected, and software packages identified that can leverage them. The current plan includes ultrasonic and IR sensors for distance measurement and proximity detection, Raspberry Pi cameras, low-cost LIDAR, and a depth camera. These would feed into our own control software, as well a stereo vision module, OpenRatSLAM for visual odometry and the gmapping package for ROS.

The Structure team will meet later this week to discuss physical design. Yet to be discussed are Computer requirements, but those will become clearer after the Software and Sensor teams refine their designs.

Aug 22, 2017 – Meeting Notes

A new project begins...
A new project begins…

Hello again! Yes, there has been another lapse between updates (and this author is partly to blame), but work has still been proceeding.

Recent meetings have been dedicated to repairs and maintenance on the robots (plus adding a slow blink), and earlier this month, Daniel gave a presentation on the project to the local IEEE Robotics and Automation group. It was here that the idea to place KEN onto a mobile base resurfaced.

At tonight’s meeting, we ended up in discussions about motivating ideas for the project, and the mobile base turned out to be quite popular. While interesting (and still on the to-do list), it seems that game-playing just isn’t quite as compelling as autonomous movement and navigation on a robot’s feature list.

Having settled on this for our next major goal, we spent the rest of the meeting working out requirements. The first one, of course, is that it has to look like a Dalek. (But don’t worry, “does not actually exterminate” is also a requirement – it was suggested that we call it “The Friendly Dalek.”)

The addition of mobility will open up many new possibilities for the humanoid robot project. It will also take a lot of (fun!) work. There is plenty of room (and need) for more people to join us, so we hope to see you at our next meeting!