A Case Study in Autonomous Robot Design

Jeffery Hay, Ross Heninger, Stephen Moyer, Casey Murphey, Christian Newhan, Fiona Popp, Corey Pullium, Kyle Ward


The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) Southeast Conference (SoutheastCon) Hardware Competition was created to bring together undergraduate students from universities across the Southeast region to test their technical knowledge and skills in a friendly robotics competition. The 2016 challenge was to develop a robot that would autonomously operate as a mobile shipping container crane. This challenge incorporated navigation on a game board (a ‘shipyard’) while collecting blocks (‘shipping containers’) and distributing them to various areas of the board (to a ‘boat,’ a ‘truck’, and a ‘train’) based on the block’s location, size, and color. In order to generate unique solutions to the competition design challenges, research was done on robot mechanics, sensors, motors, motor drivers, microcontrollers, and communication between embedded devices. With respect to the focused research that was undertaken, sensors were particularly important. The UNC Asheville robot, named Ripley, incorporated sensors for echolocation, light intensity and reflection, infrared proximity, depth, torque, and machine vision. Meeting the 2016 SoutheastCon Hardware Competition challenge required a systematic approach to engineering design including research, development, and testing under budget and time constraints.


Mechatronics; Robotics; SoutheastCon; Automation

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