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Space Taco Corgi: Mechatronic Robot
February 2019 Bianchini
For the notorious Stanford mechatronics course project, 3 of my classmates and I constructed a robot designed to play the 2019 ME218B challenge: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Designed to compete in 1-on-1 matches, autonomous robots were designed to commence when they received a start game signal, collect "garbage" (foam balls) throughout the game field, try to recycle as many as they could based on the garbage color, then throw the rest away into a landfill. All actions were autonomous, including localization, given that the robots were started in a random configuration every match.
Video 1: A brief overview and demonstration of our robot and its sub-systems.
My team and I designed all parts of this system, whose brain was a Tiva LaunchPad, which we programmed in C. We soldered all of our circuits to protoboards to balance robustness with speed of development, and we designed and built all mechanical hardware from scratch as well. We were the top-scoring team during the project check-off session, during which we scored in both the landfill and recycling center. My teammates and I went a little overboard with decorative LEDs in between the check-off session and the actual competition, so our robot drew too much current and fried during the competition.
Figure 1: The Space Taco Corgi team.
Note: Our final deliverable for the class project was in the form of a website, which you can check out here. In contrast to that site's low-level details, this post contains a high-level overview of what we made, with some of the interesting details highlighted. This project was an extremely collaborative process, and my teammates and I tackled nearly all problems together.
Historically, the documents outlining ME218 game rules are known for their humor, so I attached the pdf file to this post. Generally, game play goes as follows. Designed to compete in 1-on-1 matches, autonomous robots must commence when they receive a start game signal, collect "garbage" (foam balls) throughout the game field, sort the garbage into recyclables or trash (based on ball color), recycle what they can then throw the rest away into a landfill, all while displaying their team designation and detecting collisions. All actions are autonomous, including localization, given that the robots start in a random configuration every match.
FIgure 2: The game field, featuring a map of the Pacific ocean, 2 landfills, 2 recycling centers, a black tape leading between the recycling centers, and 4 fans to blow the garbage pieces in a swirling fashion.
Our first brainstorming focus was on the mechanical design. We separated into sub-systems: ball collection, ball sorting, and ball storage.