National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition 2016: Programming of the robot using LabVIEW

Author: Celeste Mercado

Mercado, Celeste, 2016 National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition 2016: Programming of the robot using LabVIEW, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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The National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NI ARC) is an annual competition which encourages students to become innovative in the field of robotics. Teams across New Zealand and Australia are tasked with designing, creating, and programming an autonomous robot capable of completing specific tasks of the competition within six months. With a focus in the medical field, the theme for the 2016 NI ARC competition was ‘Hospital of the Future’. The course was modelled to represent a hospital and entailed the robot to navigate from a starting position and deliver medicine units to the Storage, The Wards, and the Operations Theatre, whilst avoiding collisions into walls and surrounding static and dynamic obstacles. This is the fourth year Flinders University has competed in the competition. This year’s team, Team FUTUREbot, consisted of three members, Joel Kluske, Melissa Drogmuller and Celeste Mercado, who were assigned the mechanical design, electronic design, and programming of the robot respectively. The final design of the robot consisted of a four-wheel holonomic wheel base, with a robotic arm for object handing, and a rotating top plate to store the medicine units. The primary sensor utilised by the robot was a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), which was used for navigation and obstacle avoidance. The myRIO was required to be used as the central processing unit and was used to communicate with, and control all the electronics selected for the robot. A state machine was implemented to navigate the robot through the course. The robot would determine which state to transition to next depending on the conditions met in the current state. The majority of the navigation was heavily dependent on the manipulation and processing of the LIDAR data. Overall, the team was pleased with the performance of the robot. The team placed first in their Qualifiers heat, however was knocked out of the competition in the Round of 16 knockouts. Out of all the competing robots, the team’s robot was found to have the most reliable object handling system, and received many compliments on the final design.

Keywords: National Instruments, LabVIEW, Robotics, NIARC
Subject: Engineering thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2016
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Dr.Nasser Asgari