P17250: Solar Powered Charging Station

Problem Definition

Table of Contents


During this phase of the design process our team sought out to clearly define the problem being addressed in such a way that we have a clear picture of the requirements and constraints going into the design phase. It is important to have this picture so as not to waste resources and ensure that all potential stakeholders are satisfied. Critical analysis of the problem prior to attempting to develop a solution is a key aspect of quality project-based engineering.


Our team accomplished the objects we set out to achieve going into this phase. We clearly defined our customer requirements but also identified additional questions for key stakeholders. When assessing engineering requirements we determined that a large number of the customer requirements imposed significant constraints on our design. This became even more apparent when constructing the House of Quality and assessing risks. Overall, our team feels we accomplished our goals for this phase and gained a significant amount of valuable information from it.

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase


Define Problem
  1. Compile a list of customer requirements through the PRP and customer Interview
  2. Convert the customer requirements into engineering requirements
  3. Generate a house of quality to ensure customer requirements are met by engineering requirements
Establish Team
  1. Establish a system for completing work and communicating
  2. Generate and review team Norms and Values

What was Completed

  1. Customer and engineering requirements were defined and compared in a house of quality
  2. Team has established an effective method of communication and collaboration

Project Summary

An autonomous robotic fish has been developed that employs hydraulic McKibben artificial muscles to power through water. The fish has been designed to minimize any mechanical or robotic appearance, and to be used in a multitude of applications, ranging from military surveillance to marine research. As an introduction to these operations, a sensor has been installed on the robotic fish - capable of detecting objects fallen into the water. Furthermore, advanced mechanical talons were established in order to intercept these objects before they reach the ground. However, the batteries that currently power the motion and on-board sensing systems of the robotic fish limit the operation time to a few hours.

Thus, the objective of this project is to design a process that enables the robotic fish to engage in lengthier, time-sustainable missions. This may be accomplished through the use of a power-generating, floating docking station that is capable of charging the robotic fish. The fish must be able to first detect battery life capacity at a reasonable threshold, navigate flawlessly to the station, dock and charge batteries up to full capacity, and undock successfully to resume operation.

Additional communication systems may be installed to allow data collected from the robotic fish to be transmitted to the dock. This, though not the primary focus, would negate the need for the fish to be collected from the water, allowing smoother operations.

Use Cases

Use Case 1

Use Case (09/08/2016)

Use Case (09/08/2016)

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

1) Operational platform to charge the robotic fish within 12 hours.

2) Improved robotic fish design to implement charging and communication capabilities.

3) Test data that demonstrates platform adheres to customer and engineering requirements.

4) Detailed design documentation of the platform and improved robotic fish.

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer Requirements (09/06/2016)

Customer Requirements (09/06/2016)

File Download

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements (1/31/2017)

Engineering Requirements (1/31/2017)

Most Recent Revision Download


1) Limited swimming capabilities in the fish

2) Limited space in the fish's control compartment

3) Current battery configuration in the fish

4) Limited pool access for testing

House of Quality

House of Quality (09/08/2016)

House of Quality (09/08/2016)

File Download

Design Review Materials

Project Definition Presentation

Plans for Next Phase

Phase 1 Topics to Re-visit

  1. Confirm customer requirements with customer
  2. Obtain fish to fill blank engineering requirements parameters
  3. Revise norms and values

Gantt Chart

Gantt Chart for Phase 2

Gantt Chart for Phase 2

System Design Distribution

Phase 2 Systems Design Distribution

Phase 2 Systems Design Distribution

Individual 3 Week Plans

Jack Moore
Johan Nasution
Christopher Parker
Brittany McCord
Garrett Burgwardt
Lu Min Aung (Lucas)

Home | Planning & Execution | Imagine RIT | Useful Links & Documents

Problem Definition | Systems Design | Preliminary Detailed Design | Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep | Subsystem Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo | Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation