DIGILENT DESIGN CONTEST • DIGILENT DESIGN CONTEST • DIGILENT DESIGN CONTEST • DIGILENT DESIGN CONTEST
FIGURE 2. Top level block diagram.
Features In Brief
The Pathfinder rover presents a series of features that
help the operator accomplish a remote surveillance mission.
The system’s main features are its robotic arm and onboard
camera fitted on a pan/tilt mechanism, making it possible
to gather all the information from the area of interest, and
the capability to respond in real time to the operator’s
requests (the latter being limited by the radio link’s
It can operate in two modes: manual and autonomous.
In manual mode, the operator controls the rover using the
joystick; while in autonomous mode, the robot follows
given waypoints. In both of these modes, the robot’s
onboard MCU processes the information coming from the
GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer sensors, and
the wheel’s encoders making both local and global (when
GPS fix is available) localization information available to the
operator. It also allows the manipulation of the pan/tilt
mechanism on which the wireless onboard camera is
mounted and of the fitted robotic arm.
Why This Project?
First of all, our aim was to learn something new and
have fun doing it. So, what could be better than a project
that has both an educational and practical value? This
project was our chance to explore artificial intelligence,
improve our skills in electronics (since we are both studying
Computer Science), learn a new MCU architecture
(PIC32MX), and use a radio transceiver. Also, we had the
opportunity to apply what we learned in Control Theory,
get familiar with tank-style kinematics, accelerometers,
gyroscopes, magnetometers, and — last but not least — use
our knowledge of Qt
framework to design a user-friendly GUI (Graphical User
Our project consists of
two major components: the
FIGURE 3. Control unit block
48 SERVO 02.2012