The platform architecture consists of a differential drive mobile base fitted with an articulated conveyor system which allows for the projection of lesser constrained kinematics onto the transported load. Holonomic movement of payloads with irregular geometries will be required in manufacturing environments with limited space. Each articulation on the conveyor is fitted with a quadrature encoder to allow for sensed articulations which can monitor the change in payload configuration during multiplatform cooperative material transportation. The mobile platform is accessible over a wireless network and uses a Robot Server namely Player as its Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). This allows for the development of generic control algorithms and standardised data fusion primitives. Plug-in drivers abstract the drive control system, articulated conveyor system and sonar sensors into high level network interfaces in the Player server. The platform has both proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensory infrastructures to allow for pose estimation and local obstacle avoidance. The mobile platform uses as its on board computer an Mini-ITX form factor motherboard with a VIA C7 processor and runs Fedora Core 7.
Robots could save lives of victims and be first responders. Rescue workers have about 48 hours to retrieve victims due to survival constraints. Many hours are often lost as rescuers who cannot enter a building due to unsafe conditions. These robots could also be used in mines for rescue purposes that often plague South African mining corporations.
Problems observed with USARs are the robot's traction systems malfunction; robots cannot withstand harsh conditions, limited wireless communication range in urban environment occurs and unreliable wireless video feedback is frequent. A robot is needed that will be able to withstand these harsh conditions and that will be able to overcome the limitations that past robots have had.
Research is being done on the design and development of a robot that will perform urban search and rescue. This will include suitable materials for the constructions and insulation of the robot. The different requirements that are needed on a USAR robot are investigated which involve video transmission, communication and robot control in these difficult environments.
The focus of this research is on the development of a Modular Reconfigurable Machine (MRM); which is an enabling technology for RMSs. MRMs are modular in both their mechanical and electronic control architectures. The concept being researched is the development of a set of machine modules for the synthesis of a complete machine tool. These modules when assembled in varying configurations will produce machines with varying topologies, as best suited for the production of the required part family. A modular building block approach for the synthesis of machine tools promotes hardware reusability; this reduces investment costs in hardware and allows the modular components of a machine to be reassembled in varying configurations to meet changing production mix and volume characteristics.
The development of a fully modular machine will require the implementation of a modular Open Architecture Control (OAC) system. OAC overcomes the problem of inflexibility found in the proprietary automation of conventional CNC and dedicated machinery. The software and electronic control modules should possess generic plug and play capabilities to minimize machine reconfiguration and system ramp-up times. Modular control hardware and software architectures will facilitate the reconfiguration of machine hardware while allowing the controllers to be easily upgraded as new technologies and more efficient control algorithms are developed.
Autonomy is largely provided by means of an onboard computer that serves as a robot sever to which a system controller (typically a host computer) can subscribe to in order to convey commands. A novel navigation system is being researched and developed that will allow the vehicle to perform materials handling tasks necessary to reduce bottlenecks. A communication system will also be incorporated into the infrastructure of the vehicle. Performance analysis and testing will also be done in a reconfigurable production environment. This will involve vehicle scheduling and routing while performing materials handling tasks.
Using the necessary sensors and control systems the tool changer will be easily integrated into a modular manufacturing system.
CIM cells possess manufacturing
conditions such as modularity and open control architecture, controlled
simultaneously by its software and hardware. It will operate within an
integrated intelligent manufacturing system primarily through software
control. This provides a standard software interface for integration into a
control system, while providing reconfigurability of the system and its
functionality in response to frequently changing product architectures and
features. The software and
hardware will coordinate both low to high level activities. These activities range from planning and scheduling of production, mechanization of hardware, to synchronization of the cell components gained from error reports. The hardware components of the manufacturing system possess a standard method of physical interaction with each other.
The reconfiguration and manufacturing functionality of CIM cells are categorized at a primary and secondary level which is determined from its process parameters. At its primary level, reconfiguration is of material flow paths while at its secondary level reconfiguration occurs due to the status of the hardware.
From an economic and production management perspective the reconfigurable CIM cells will provide the essential manufacturing requirements to provide rapid change. It will provide cost effectiveness, minimum product cycle time, reduced manufacturing lead time, rapid ramp up, flexibility, produce products of high quality and meet customer needs.
The objective of this research is to develop a UAV with a high degree of manoeuvrability which can be used for search and rescue applications. The robot should be able to switch between autonomous and semi-autonomous control, as well as avoid obstacles in its flight path. This ensures that full attention is given to incoming data and surveillance footage.