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FireCheetah returns to Abington

Posted by Erica on Apr 18, 2013 in Making

Saturday was the Abington firefighting competition. I had entered this contest last year with very little time to prepare, and was looking forward to trying again. I made considerable progress (as blogged here over the past few months), and showed up with a robot that was stronger and simpler. Most importantly, it was smarter.
Tests had [...]

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Ready to put out some fires

Posted by Erica on Apr 11, 2013 in Making

Finally the time has come — the Abington Firefighting Competition is two days away. FireCheetah is tested and ready to go! The kids have their own robot this year, a LEGO Mindstorms creation named Dark Lord, and he is looking good too.
All about sensors
With navigation mostly solved early on, there was more time to look [...]

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More robot software improvements

Posted by Erica on Mar 14, 2013 in Making

The Abington firefighting competition is one month away. I’ve been working hard on the controller software, and at this point FireCheetah reliably navigates on continuous surfaces (floor or rug). That is well ahead of where things were last year! Along the way I came across a few things that may be useful to other roboticists.
A [...]

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Making a robot go straight

Posted by Erica on Mar 5, 2013 in Making

If you create a mobile robot with a job to do, at some point you will be faced with the need to get it to a specific location. Firefighting competitions require the robot to navigate a known maze. Much of my limited time last year was spent trying to get FireCheetah to do the supposedly [...]

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Coursera, MATLAB, robotics, and 3D printing

Posted by Erica on Feb 10, 2013 in Education, Making

The Heterogeneous Parallel Programming course at Coursera is more or less wrapped up. There were so many problems with the grading system that any “final resolution” has not been made as far as grades, and it is a little anti-climactic. I did very well on the assignments, but don’t know exactly what we get as [...]

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FireCheetah returns

Posted by Erica on Jan 13, 2013 in Electronics, Making

Last year I participated in the Abingdon firefighting robotics competition, in which a robot must navigate a maze, find a candle, and put it out. We entered two divisions: K-6 where kids are allowed to remote control the robot, and the senior division where all actions must be autonomous. The kids won their division, but [...]

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Robot competition day

Posted by Erica on Apr 23, 2012 in Electronics, Making

After two months of work, the big day was finally here. Friday night we drove up to Philadelphia with lots of tools and the robot nestled in a box at my feet. The kids were very excited and we all brought matching robot t-shirts to wear. Saturday morning we showed up bright and early for [...]

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Finishing the firefighting robot

Posted by Erica on Apr 20, 2012 in Electronics, Making

As I write, we are on our way to the Abington Firefighting Competition. Up until last night, I was not certain that we would make it. In the previous post I mentioned various gremlins with the motor control system. Running at a lower voltage more or less made them go away. It worked so well [...]

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FireCheetah navigates on his own

Posted by Erica on Apr 15, 2012 in Electronics, Making

With less than a week to go before the robot competition, I have been working very hard. Most of the previous week was spent on navigation. With this particular maze design, there is a section where the robot is forced to move and do some turns without having a wall to guide it. I wanted [...]

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FireCheetah is running

Posted by Erica on Apr 1, 2012 in Electronics, Making

Good news — FireCheetah’s remote control mode is working! Here is a video of the bot in action:

The robot is actually quite fast. I had to slow it down to 30% of full speed to control it reliably by hand. The weight is unevenly distributed right now as well, which adds to the challenge. I [...]

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