Integrated Design Project
Every year the second-year undergraduates are presented with the challenge of building a mobile robot as an Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV). They have just four weeks working in teams of six to design and construct the robot to perform a specified task. The emphasis at the beginning is on planning and team work as the job of building the mechanical components goes to one pair, the electrics are in the charge of a further pair, and the remaining two write the software to guide the vehicle through its tasks. A management plan has to be produced, and the team's designs presented to a member of staff for approval before construction begins.
Most students enjoy this project, especially when the competition is run on the final day, and the robots are put through their paces. Here we show snaps from one such project where the task involved picking up a moderately heavy object, and transporting it across the test bench to a predetermined position. The object then had to be placed in one of three boxes, depending on its temperature. If that were not enough, the task had to be repeated six times, the robot going automatically back and forth delivering objects to boxes, within a time of 5 min.
Click on a link below to see video clips from a final day competition.
Some, much to the dismay of the design team, do not work at all; refusing to follow the correct path. Others fail to measure the temperature correctly or miss the box altogether when the object is released. But those glorious moments when all goes to plan are magic, and those with time to spare (the robots that is) perform a celebratory twirl or shout with joy. "We changed the whole software routine late last night" confided one team member, "but it was worth the effort to see our robot perform so well."