The 3rd International Competition on Mobile Robot Systems

Qubiz is very proud of one of our team members, Andrei, who participated together with his team at “The Third International Competition on Mobile Robot Systems EARTH ROVER – 2013”, held in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. We are glad that we could support his talent and his team for this contest.

In the following lines, we asked Andrei about this experience and we found out some very nice things that we wanted to share.

How did you find out about this contest?

Andrei: We participated in a different competition, “Hard and Soft 2013” in Suceava, where we were contacted by the organizers, who have us all the details about the “The Third International Competition on Mobile Robot Systems EARTH ROVER – 2013” contest. So we decided to participate in this competition as well.

How many teams participated in this competition and from which countries?

Andrei: There were 7 teams from 3 countries: Moldova, Ukraine and Romania. We were the only ones representing Romania. We came back with a honorable mention.

What have you prepared for this contest? Can you please describe the steps for implementing them ?

Andrei: we created a Zeppelin. There were 3 balloons filled with Helium, being mounted on a fiberglass body - to be as light as possible - and 2 airscrews on each part. The balloons were mounted in series connection.

The Zeppelin can be driven in 2 ways:

  • Manual mode -> the user with a remote control can guide the Zeppelin so that it can rise from the ground to a maximum of 4 meters. Also the Zeppelin can move forward or backward, and can rotate to left or right.
  • Automatic mode -> where the Zeppelin executes a series of commands without user input

There were 2 steps for our project:First of all, we started the hardware part. At the beginning, we made some tests so we could check what height the balloons can rise at and after that we started to create the remote control. The remote control communicates through a Radio Frequency via a transmitter, and the receiver was mounted on a motherboard that was situated on the Zeppelin’s body. The remote control includes a microcontroller, 4 buttons for directions: left, right, front, back and 2 buttons for up and down, and a display that showed the height; measured in meters. Height measuring was done every 0.5 meters. There was also a switch for the automatic mode. The process consisted in the fact that I sent 2 bytes of information, the first byte being a key used to verify the validity of the information.The motherboard contained a receiver, a microcontroller, the same as for the remote control, connectors for the batteries and motors, as well as the circuit logic. The motherboard controller continuously checked if any information was being received from the remote. In case any information was received, the next step was to check its validity using the key. Next I checked the bits of the second byte which contained the actual data. For each bit value a function was called to execute the commands received from the remote. We had a function for each movement, for an emergency stop in case something went wrong and we wanted to turn off the Zeppelin as well as one for the automatic mode.Before entering in the automatic mode, the user can set the height at which the Zeppelin should fly.On the Zeppelin, there are 6 sensors:

  • 1 x Distance sensor to periodically measure the distance between the ground and the Zeppelin (one every 1/10 seconds), this value would be compared with the height specified by the user to get the Zeppelin to float at the desired height.
  • used both in automatic and manual modes
  • 1 x Gas sensor -> in case it detects any gas it executes a landing procedure.
  • 1 x Proximity sensor was mounted on the back of the Zeppelin and if it detected any presence, it moved forward approx. 1 meter.
  • 3 x Light sensor -> the sensors were mounted in the front of Zeppelin and they were user to make the Zeppelin follow a light source.
  • these 5 sensors are used only in automatic mode

The automatic mode can be interrupted at any time to return to manual control.

Second phase: After we finished the hardware part of our project we started with the software part.

For the remote control, we received input from each button on the microcontroller. We created data packages of bits, and for low energy consumption, the information was sent only when a button pressing occurred, it was not a continuous process. When a button on the remote control was pressed, a single data package was sent to the receiver. However if the switch for the automatic mode was used, then a continuous stream with the same value was sent to the receiver. This way, the automatic mode can be interrupted at any time.

A very interesting project. Now, how would you describe this experience?

Andrei: It was a very good experience, and I had the chance to visit Moldova and Chisinau for the first time. There was a lot of hard work put into this and although we received a honorable mention we hope to do better in the future.

By Andrei & Alina

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