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Philip Maynard: Senior Design Project: Autonomous Robot Fun!
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Senior Design Project: Autonomous Robot Fun! · Oct 10, 04:27 PM by Philip Maynard

For a capstone project, I’ve elected to take part in a robot competition. The robot my team constructs will be completely autonomous, relying on sensor arrays and complex algorithms to make decisions about where to move and what to. The problem we have to solve is quite challenging:

The robot must fit inside a 12” cube.
It must navigate an 8’ square game board without outside intervention or communication.
On the board are three dominoes, at fixed locations. There are several walls on the board, but these may be moved. The robot’s starting position and orientation are unkown. One of the dominoes is red, and that one must be knocked down last.

To accomplish this task, we have the following tools:

A Freescale HC12-based microcontroller.

We’ve elected to purchase a robot chassis including two servo motors, wheel encoders, and mounting hardware to easily bolt up all the components. This will save us the hassle and complication of attempting to make the mechanicals ourselves.

For sensor input, we have a variety of options, and we’re going to use many of them. The more data, the easier it is for the robot to make decisions. For accurate object detection and ranging, Sharp IR sensors will be used. In each direction there will be at least one sensor, with a variety of long-range (8” to 6’) and short-range (1” to 1’) sensors being used. The panels that make up the maze-like walls of the game board are set up on a 12” grid. There are lines on the board in a 9” grid, which at first seems troublesome if we’re to attempt using them for navigation. However, this is a boon! Since the walls and lines don’t line up, our robot can measure the distance from the line it’s following to the closest wall and determine where on the board it is. To assist in determing direction, a compass may be used to provide a rough heading.

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