Telepresence Robot - Spring 2014
Robotics Club built a telepresence robot with the goal of allowing students to remotely roam our makerspace using a web control interface and Skype. The telepresence robot is capable of traveling in any direction at any point of time regardless of the direction it's facing due to it's unique triple omni-wheel setup. A Skype feed and controller interface can be accessed over the internet to control the robot. At the top of the pole, a webcam that articulates up and down gives the controller a wide-angle view to help them see the remote environment and people that may approach the robot and speak to it. An additional camera in the upper assembly points down to give the controller a floor view at all times to avoid collisions that cannot be seen by the forward facing camera. The drivetrain and controls systems are all housed in the lower assembly. Our telepresence robot prototype costs less than $1000 to produce compared to the consumer models that cost on the order of $10000 or more. We entered the robot into SMU's Innovation Pitch Competition, seeking more funding to build on the low-cost platform we started with to add more features to increase interactivity and safety of use. The project was awarded $1000 as the crowd favorite vote.
Robotics Club Community Workshops
Robotics Club hosts a series of community workshops designed to teach other students of all backgrounds, skill levels, and majors neat skills through short DIY projects. We taught a "Getting Started with Arduino" workshop that imparted students with basic programming knowledge and gave them the skills to control a small LED strip used to illuminate a sign. Our "Tic. Toc. Build a Clock." workshop taught students how to work with vector graphics in Inkscape and how to use a laser cutter. Students designed and built their own clock faces out of plywood.
Myo-Controlled Quadcopter - Fall 2015 to Present
Part of the mission of Robotics Club is to embrace failing, learning from our mistakes, and trying out new technologies while doing that. The quadcopter project, because it is all completely custom in both hardware and software, allows the students to use all the tools they have at their disposal while working on a project that presents significant design challenges. On the hardware side, the team did all the initial calculations based on our requirements and selected all the parts we needed to purchase. The entire chassis is 3D-printed to save cost and weight. On the software side, we wanted to experiment with Myo, a gesture-control armband that actively reads muscle activity in the upper forearm to translate motion into commands, to control flight. All of the code required to operated the drone and maintain stability in flight is written in C/C++ for Arduino and loaded onto an onboard Arduino. Additional code running on a computer communicates wirelessly with the quadcopter via Bluetooth, helping translate Myo gestures read by proprietary Myo software into flight commands for the drone. Version 2.0 is in the works, with updates to the drone chassis to help solve some flight stability and balance issues and progress on the software to introduce sustained directional flight.