This summer I took the robotics control class here at UCSB, ME 170C/ECE 181C. In this class, we formed groups of 2 and each group had to design and test their own robot to do different tasks. My partner was Thien Nguyen. The robots were built entirely out of Lego pieces for the chassis, and an Arduino micro-controller was used to control the motors. Me and Thien divided the work, he built the chassis, I programmed and debugged the algorithm and we both did the sensor placement and wiring. The first few labs of the class were to get us introduced to all the components and sensors available. Some of the sensors we used were touch switches, break-beam sensors, reflectance sensors, IR range sensors and photo resistors. All these sensors provided us with valuable information that the micro-controller processed in order to decide where to move next. The goal of the final competition was to collect as many foam pieces of “cheese” as our robot could carry or place on the wall. We could have used any sensors or strategy to do this. Our strategy was to use the the range sensor to follow the wall and have the robot move around the field, collecting both ground and hanging cheese. Then turn, and drop a basket full of cheese on the wall. This strategy did not work very well since we ran into several problems that we couldn’t fix in time like wheels getting stuck, latches not releasing, chains breaking, sensors not reading properly and the robot getting stuck in corners. Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that combines Mechanical, Electrical and Software Engineering. Over all it was a fun class and I learned a lot about robots, gear ratios, and the design and experimentation process. I would recommend this class to anyone who is interested in robotics or likes to solve complex problems.
3rd Year Computer Engineering Student
Los Ingenieros (L.I.)
The official SHPE/MAES Student Chapter at the University of California Santa Barbara