Our robot (R2) named π-TA is standing on the roof of an industrial building during a permanently rising flood and must be at the meeting point in three minutes at the latest, otherwise the water will rise so high that the electronics of the robot will be destroyed. At the meeting point, the robot can then be picked up by a boat and rescued. His friend (R1) is standing on a second roof and is struggling with the same problem. Between the two buildings are two steel beam walls that are too far apart for one robot. However, if the two robots work together, it is possible to reach the meeting point, over these steel beam walls, together. To reach this goal, the robots have to use the pipes that are lying around on the roofs and are equipped with microcodes that contain the length of the pipe. If they put the right two pipes together, they could build a bridge across the roofs.
Our robot has a simple and functional design. It consists of a base plate to which the chassis is attached and a top plate on which the entire gripping device is mounted.
Between the two plates are the electronics with the PCB and the battery.
The π-TA robot starts on building 2. Before the start, the robot is brought into the starting position through the use of a template. The template guarantees that there are no deviations due to unclean positioning.
In the first step, π-TA waits for a signal from the partner robot as to which of the three pipes is needed. The required pipe is then taken from the pipe store with the gripper.
In the next step, π-TA moves to the support 2 and aligns the pipe to the counter pipe of the partner robot.
When the robots are aligned with each other, the two pipes are connected.
After the pipes have been connected, they are lowered onto the supports provided. In the next step, the robot is lifted minimally from the table so that it can then move on the tube. Both robots meet in the middle of the two tables and connect to each other.
After they have been connected, they lower themselves onto the steel girder walls below and detach from the pipes.
Finally, they roll together on the steel girder walls to the meeting point
The gripper has several tasks:
It is used to scan the three pipes on roof 2 in order to find the matching counterpart to the partner team. There is a camera on the gripper for this purpose.
When the right pipe has been found, it is fixed in the gripper by the swivelling arm.
To move along the pipe, the gripper has several rollers, one of which is driven.
The arm has the function of tilting the gripper. This allows the inclined pipes to be taken out of the pipe store and aligned horizontally to position them on the support 2.
With the scissor table, the entire arm with gripper can be lifted up to 24 mm. This is needed to lift the pipe and position it on support 2. Furthermore, the robot must be able to lower itself onto the steel beam walls.
The caterpillars allow the robot to move around the playing field. They can be controlled individually to turn the robot.
The magnetic plate has the task of connecting our robot with the robot of the partner team, for this purpose there are three magnets on the magnetic plate.
The pipe connectors are needed to join the two individual pipes of the two robots together. There are magnets at the ends of the pipe connections that hold the pipes together after they are connected.
The PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is the heart of our robot. It contains the electronic circuits with sensors, motors, LEDs and all other circuits. The microzed board is also located on the PCB and is used to control the PCB.
The Raspberry Pi has the task of reading out the microcode that is used to recognise the tubes. A camera is attached to the gripper for this purpose.
The robot is operated by a total of seven Faulhaber motors. They ensure that π-TA can perform its tasks. Two motors are responsible for movement on the building and the remaining five for the functions of the gripping device.
The π-TA robot is powered by a 12V rechargeable battery. The robot can be switched on and off via a start switch.
The team started the systems engineering project with an empty knowledge case, not knowing exactly what to expect. The project quickly grew in scope and it was clear that there was a lot of work behind the knowledge that had to be acquired for the project. Whether it was about processes or getting to know a new software, the knowledge box was filled more and more with each piece. From this time, it was clear that much more than basic knowledge was needed to realise such a project and that one was strongly dependent on a functioning team. Many of the experiences from this intensive time will now accompany each team member in their professional life and have also shown that you can never expect everything to work as planned. A high degree of flexibility is the prerequisite for success in such projects.
In the team, we organised ourselves in such a way that we divided ourselves into three groups: mechanics, electronics and IT. With a team leader and a sub-team leader, we simplified communication between the individual groups. The individual tasks were carried out in smaller groups in order to achieve the highest possible efficiency.
Team Leader & Group Leader Electronics
Group Leader Mechanics
Group Leader IT
We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Faulhaber company for their generous sponsorship of motors, which were necessary for the realisation of the robot.