[Sep 18 – Apologies for the belated posting. Here’s the update from Daniel. – Eric]
We continued discussions on the mobile navigation base drive system and reviewed past PyroTech robots for inspiration. The next step is to draw up some design ideas and work out the interfaces between the drive system and the superstructure to ensure we have the right dimensions for everything to fit in place.
We also expanded our investigation into the RatSLAM video-based mapping software. Previously we had demonstrated that the software worked using video provided by the original author. This time we used an Android smartphone program to capture images from a phone and send them to the software. This allowed us to see how the software works when mapping The Forge HQ shop. It was clear that the software is able to get the topology of the environment, but that the poor quality of the video-based odometry made the map unreliable and unrealistic. We discussed plans to improve the odometry by using wheel encoders and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) in the drive base. Next step for RatSLAM is to see if we can tune some of its parameters to understand it better and improve the performance.
It has been a fairly busy week. On Friday the 1st, the Structure team met to decide on an approach for building the Dalek base. We settled on building a shell out of sheet metal, stabilized and reinforced by internal shelving and mounting hardware for the other components. The “foot” of the Dalek will serve as a mounting point for the drive module as well as an array of distance/obstacle sensors. For internal access (to batteries, computers and such), the “back” of the shell will be removable. We presented this plan to the rest of the group at tonight’s meeting, and got the thumbs-up to move forward. After taking measurements of the KEN robots, we got some scaling figures, and will be working on a mock-up for sizing the rest of the components in the coming weeks.
The Drive team continued their discussions tonight, and after reviewing several options, decided to focus on a 4x omniwheel-based holonomic system. We’ll be shopping around to get some idea of pricing, and then moving on to power and control questions.
Wrapping up tonight’s meeting, the Software team made some exciting progress. After installing OpenRatSLAM on KEN4’s main computer, they were able to run it and observe the algorithm in action, albeit using prepackaged data.
That’s all for today. We made good progress, so I think we can sleep soundly knowing that our Dalek overlord will be pleased.