Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Imagine Cup Robotics Round 2 mission released… Wild goose chasing at Endurance crater, Mars…


Follow up to the post In to the Mars – Neck breaking Opportunity.


On last Friday (27th) challenge kit for the Robotics and algorithms round 2 was released. As it was expected this is re-launch of Mars challenge that was held as part of Robochamps league. But this time the simulation environment is more responsive and the task is bit more spiced up with collecting the data from rocks using a spectrometer.


The sensors we have access includes color Navigation camera, Panoramic camera installed on the ‘head’ of the rover and two B&W hazard avoidance cameras on front and rear of the rover. Spectrometer which is in fact physically a touch sensor and a comlink which can be used to obtain the Pan, roll and pitch of the Rover as well as GPS location and some mission details (Positions of navigation areas)

The drives available includes Horizontal and vertical rotation of head, A Six wheel differential drive, articulated arm on which the spectrometer is attached on the end.

The objective is to navigate trough the given 6 points. Analyze a rock from each area and reach the heat shield. The navigation includes descending into the crater as well similar to the real Opportunity mission at Endurance crater.

The navigation points are obtainable from the comlink interface however the position that the heat shield dropped is bit of random and cannot be known for certain. So it ultimately becomes a wild goose chase to find out the heat shield. Even though it is said to be near the last selected point in practice it appeared to be near means almost half across the map.smile_tongue

With few days of experiments and coding I was able to come up with a solution that could navigate all the points successfully and analyze the required data.smile_nerd However I would certainly have to improve this solution with better algorithms and more reliability and or adaptability over the time. But no problem I have plenty of time left even till the challenge officially start on 20th of April.clock


More details.



[Posted using Windows Live Writer on Windows 7 Beta]

Monday, March 2, 2009

In to the Mars – Neck breaking Opportunity.


Since the Imagine Cup Robotics & Algorithm competition Round 1 deadline is extended till April 1st I had decided to go and give a try on the Robochamps previous challenges. So I decided to give a try in the Mars Challenge which seems to be very interesting.

The sample kit is provided only with a VPL solution. However it is not a big deal converting a VPL diagram to C# code I first converted the VPL diagram into a C# solution and started developing an entry.

The environment and the robot recreates a scenario experienced by Opportunity, one of NASA’s real rovers in the Endurance Crater. There are 6 Navigation points that we should visit and finally we must reach the heat shield to complete the mission.smile_nerd

The obstacles are the rocks that are scattered over the terrain and safely maneuvering into the crater. The sensors available are A Navigation camera, Panoramic camera and two hazard avoidance cameras in front and rear. There is also a GPS data from the Communication link. So as an start I designed a solution which uses only the GPS data and travels the navigation points in sequence. The problem with this is the rower may hit a rock or stuck in the crater forever.

Following is the video footage of test run. Well fortunately there wasn’t any rocks on the path and even though the rover rolled into the crater in a neck breaking way finally it landed on correctly.smile_tongue

Hmm I think I should be bit more careful with a multi million dollar scientific robot like this.smile_wink Well let’s see how we can improve this more later..

[Posted using Windows Live Writer on Windows 7 Beta]