As part of the mobile robotics class being offered next spring, Grove City engineers are designing a new robot. The hardware looks amazing, with components like National Instruments’ myRio, Garmin’s LIDAR-Lite, an inertial measurement unit, and a GPS. The robot will be equipped to navigate the outdoor world, and it will be up to the students to program it.
What I also think is cool about the robot is the team working on it. Dr. Mohr is teaching the mobile robotics class and so is leading the project, but developing the robot spans both the Electrical Engineering (EE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME) departments. A senior ME, Joel Bodine, has been designing the chassis as part of an independent study with Dr. Archibald. And Mr. Jaillet, the EE lab technician, has been essential to the project’s success, helping with practical details from his years of experience with electronics and design.
All of the ME students become masters of Creo by senior year, and that was clear with Joel, as he used the software to model every aspect of the chassis and then knew how to present from the model. But Joel had also learned a lot about designing for production and was able to draw on that experience. For instance, Grove City owns two 3D printers, which Joel will use for creating the chassis, so along with functional evaluation of each chassis design comes a consideration of how feasible printing each design is.
I learned a few things from observing the meeting. For instance, if you’re designing a robot for the outdoors, you should make sure you have good ground clearance; no one likes it when their robot gets stuck going over a hump. There is also a lot more to designing a chassis than is apparent: You can’t forget details like how the charging cord will connect to the battery charging port or how the wires will go where they need to go. There is also a lot of room for creativity, as was obvious from the different concepts Joel had developed.
Over the summer, Dr. Mohr will be working out some of the details of class projects for the mobile robot, but expects students to use the robot for things like localization (finding where you are and mapping the environment) and an interactive game.
Dr. Mohr also showed me the circuit schematic he has been working on, which is impressive. It’s also a lot neater than the one I made recently for his PCB design class. (Side note to future EE’s: You should definitely take the PCB class. It’s offered occasionally as a one-credit special topic class. I am learning so much about designing everyday circuits that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise learned with my computer concentration, and PCB’s are really cool.)
And there you have it! Future engineers at Grove City will get to program this mobile robot which is currently being designed and produced. And future students who, like Joel, have an interest in independent research, will get to continue working on the cutting edge of Grove City’s engineering program.