Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Migration to the new Housing Finished

Today we finished the migration of our hardware into the new frame and housing. After fixing the usual problems with the off-the-shelf components and some teething troubles with the wiring, we could run our first successful ‘walking’ tests just this weekend. The housing now contains the complete robotic system, including cameras, illumination, communication, and –most importantly- the specimen collector.
In contrast to our initial plan of having a drill-like collector, we decided to go for a simpler shovel mechanism that is just lowered into the ground and filled by slowly sliding the robot forward. It looks a little bit like a bird’s beak.
Mechanical benefits are the increased stiffness with some reduction in weight, and additional sensors to measure all joint angles. Additionally the robot is now fully protected against environmental influences. However, we’re not planning of putting it in the rain until the competition is over.
The upcoming week is fully designated to testing. The main focus will thereby be on the cooperation of the individual systems. That means, looking at the communication, power consumption, and maneuverability in the dark. Another goal is to get some long term operation experience before we have to pack our boxes and ship them to Tenerife. We want to figure out witch components are working well, and which are prone to error while we’re still able to patch. Other issues that we couldn’t yet examine are friction, wear, and especially heat accumulation and its influence on the different components.
The fine-tuning and finalization of the locomotion concept will be done on the spot in Tenerife were we can test in the actual conditions and environment of the competition.

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