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P11216: Wandering Campus Ambassador (part 6)
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Project Summary

Project # Project Name Project Track Project Family
P11216 Wandering Ambassador (part 6) Vehicle/Robotics Land Vehicle
Start Term Team Guide Project Sponsor Doc. Revision
20102 George Slack KGCOE EE Department 3

Project Description

Project Background
Robot Track (2009/2010/2011)
* RIT has always been interested in finding new and exciting ways to build interest and showcase student activities on campus. The primary customer conceptualized a robot which slowly moves around campus caring for an onboard plant and runs on sustainable energy. This would serve multiple purposes, which include showing RIT’s commitment to sustainable energy, student innovation and technical ability, as well as providing a talking piece for visitors to campus.
* P11216 will join the P11215 team to evaluate previous development and then develop or mature needed functionality as well as test all robotic functions and continue to refine the design, as needed.
Problem Statement
The main goal of this project is to raise awareness of RIT innovation by designing a robot that acts as a guardian of a plant and who acts in a symbiotic relationship with the plant. The robot will support the needs of the plant, as well as its own, by managing sunlight and soil water content.
Objectives/Scope
* Work with P11215 efficiently to complete robot functions
* Improve the robot’s navigation functions so that it may wander unattended.
* Have the robot be able to care for the plant for a period of at least 1 week.
* Define detailed test routines to uncover reliability issues.
* Continue the implementation process of debugging hardware and software as the integration process begins. (i.e., characterize and evaluation the various robot sensors and output devices.)
* Make maximum use of natural conditions by managing sun, shade, temperature, rain, and watering to allow the plant to grow and thrive and robot power to self-sustain.
* Establishment of an environment which allows software development to proceed before hardware is available and integrates with hardware.
* Full definition and implementation of software application programming interface to the robot navigation and plant support functions.
* By the start of the spring quarter, evaluate the test results and issues from the P11215 team, and create a plan to eliminate critical known software issues.
* Perform outdoor field testing, and debug software issues identified.
Deliverables
* Improved design with improved safety features.
* Implemented plant care system.
* Testing routine for drivetrain features including drive transmission and safety issue.
* Testing routine for transport scheme needs to be evaluated.
* Testing routine for plant portion of the robot including water reservoir and dispensing.
* Robot navigates autonomously at the Innovation Festival in spring of 2011.
Expected Project Benefits
* Showcase the creativity and technical abilities of RIT’s Multidisciplinary Senior Design teams.
* Navigate autonomously and take care of the plant at RIT’s Innovation Festival in Spring 2011.
* Reinforcement of RIT’s devotion to sustainability projects and energy resources.
* Excellent demonstration of good testing procedures for integrated systems of its kind.
* Define robust application programming interfaces for higher-level on-board processing.
* Work in conjunction with the initial team during the winter term to expand the range of plant maintenance, environment interaction, and navigation functions that are available.
Core Team Members
* Nick Leathe (ME)
* Anna Gilgur (ME)
* Rui Zhou (EE)
* Ken Hertzog (CE)
* Joseph Stevens (SE)
* Philip Gibson (SE)
* Dave Ladner (SE)
* Terra McAndrew (ID)
* Project Team P11215

Strategy and Approach

Assumptions and Constraints
* The robot will not be a safety hazard to observers and campus visitors.
* Existing locomotion system and frame will be used as a base for modification.
* The robot needs to function for 1 week unattended.
* The robot will take care of the plant.
* The robot will be able to fit through doors.
* On-board processing power: dual core single board computer, Linux operating system.
* Sensors and actuators for robot navigation and status, and plant support and status.
* Prototype design of software interfaces to the robot navigation and plant support functions.

Issues and Risks

* Difficulty in software-hardware interaction pervious groups experienced continues to hinder progress.
* Reliability issues
* Legacy documentation not fully developed
* Sensor blind-spots need to be filled in order to prevent collisions.
* Additional safety mechanisms are required to make the robot safe for curious children.
* Conflicting customer needs lead to a failure in creating an interesting project.

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