Terabee sponsors Zebracorns with sensors for Robotics competition
Terabee was excited to sponsor one of the projects for the Zebracorns 2019 competitive robotics team.
The team experimented with TeraRanger Multiflex and Evo 64px sensors using them to create autonomous alignment algorithms.
The Zebracorns are a FIRST® Robotics Competition Team which began as a partnership between mentors and students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, with the goal of introducing students to engineering principles through practical application. The mission of the Zebracorns is to "inspire and empower students across North Carolina to be exceptional innovators and leaders."
The group were looking for solutions to align robots with various obstacles such as walls, cargo ports and hatch panel ports. We supplied TeraRanger Multiflex and Evo 64 px sensors to the team, who embarked on a series of experiments to create algorithms that would enable alignment of robots in these different situations.
Time-of-Flight sensor arrays for indoor robotics
TeraRanger Multiflex is a modular and low-cost sensing kit consisting of an array of eight small lightweight distance sensors connected by ribbon cable of various lengths. The plug and play sensor modules make it easy to create custom configurations and to place sensors where needed. It is a higher performance alternative to ultrasound for robot collision avoidance, stock monitoring and many other closer range distance sensing applications. The sensors are able to collect synchronised high-frequency distance readings from several sources. TeraRanger uses Time-of-Flight technology to provide multi-sensor crosstalk avoidance, with a detection range of up to 2m, with I2C / UART / USB interface.
Developed for indoor use, TeraRanger Evo 64px outputs a matrix of 8x8 high-speed distance readings over a 15 degree field of view, with a maximum range of up to 5 metres. The Time-of-Flight Evo sensing platform delivers high-performance in a compact design and low-cost. Terabee optical LiDAR technology returns distance values in millimetres at high speed and is plug and play, easy to use in many applications, including drones, robots, automation and IoT. The Evo delivers 64 pixel depth images for movement detection, can operate in low light and even complete darkness, is ROS ready and works with USB / UART (clip-on, interchangeable) interfaces.
Easy set up and algorithm development
The team found it very easy to get the sensors up and running. They experimented with different algorithms and developed three main algorithms to achieve the alignments they were looking for.
"The first algorithm that we experimented with was a simple method for aligning to directly face a wall. We used the TeraRanger Multiflex with two of the distance sensors facing the wall." (Zebracorn Labs paper).
A second algorithm was developed to enable alignment of a robot with a cargo port, using two TeraRanger Multiflex distance sensors on the corners of the robot, with successful results.
The third algorithm the team worked on was to align the robot with a hatch panel port. This was a more complicated algorithm and was developed in two parts. The team encountered some problems getting this to work reliably:
"The biggest issue stemmed from us trying to make the algorithm work all the way from the most extreme case where only one sensor was on the face of the rocket and all of the others were either off to the left or right. Doing this instead of just trying to make the algorithm correct for smaller offsets in alignment introduced a lot of duplicate cases where it wasn’t possible to tell whether the robot was just slightly to the left or really far to the right of the rocket." (Zebracorn Labs paper)
Zebracorns continue to use Terabee sensors for 2020 competition season
The team plans to devote more time throughout 2020 to continued development of more sophisticated algorithms for the sensors. Having the sensors in advance of robot production this year means they will be able to integrate them more fully into their robots, and feel this will give them the edge when the competition season begins.
We look forward to seeing how the Zebracorns push the development of algorithms in the coming year, and wish them luck with the 2020 competition.
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Terabee has performed years of joint projects with CERN on leading-edge physics for sensor-based solutions and is the first company supported by Innogex, the French Business Incubation Centre of CERN Technologies.
This company has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 850014
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