maze robot sensor integration

This project was completed during a course on robotics taught by Prof. Dave Barret at Olin College. The final project for the course, the goal of the project was to navigate a maze using a Surveyor robotic platform. As part of this project, additional sensors were added to the robot. This writeup will focus on the addition of the sensors because t
maze robot sensor integration - schematic

hey illustrate an example of engineering problem solving skills as we extended the capability of a platform beyond its original design. This project was completed with collaboration from Leif Jentoft. The challenge of this final project was that the surveyor platform only contained a single sensor, a video camera. Furthermore, the platforms were running a parallel programming language called Occam Pi that made making the maze solving algorithms pretty easy, but adding sensors difficult. Because of the distinct difference between the colors of the walls of the maze and floor, a color differentiation algorithm using the camera could be successful in navigating the maze. All of the other teams chose to take this approach. While a few of the teams did have success with this approach, we chose to install a few Sharp infrared distance sensors instead. We knew from the beginning that there were significant issues with this approach. Like most sensors, the Sharp IR distance sensors that we were trying to use output only analog voltages between a low voltage (almost zero) and the high power rail. The Surveyor used a Blackfin DSP chip as its CPU. By design, it was limited to having only digital inputs so we needed to provide the Surveyor with some sort of digital values so that we could use IR distance sensors to help us navigate the maze. The Occam SDK for the Surveyor platform could not yet read serial values at the beginning of...

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