Laboratory Description

Introduction

In this course, laboratory grades will be based on a combination of group project work and individual pre-lab preparation and lab reports. Echoing the discussion in the Course Description Document, Groups will author a sequence of reports that move from literature review to hypothesis formation to experimental design and implementation and finally to the production of a technical paper. In contrast, Individual credit (I) will be earned largely on the basis of a series of warm-up laboratory exercises that this document will introduce.

Although these Warm-Up Labs capture the essential components of the robot’s operation and logging environment, we will of course only scratch the surface of what you might do in your group projects. When, in the second part of the course, your group determines that there is some specific skill or capability that has not been taught and has inadequate available tutorial materials, the Instructor and TA will offer office hour tutorial support in exchange for your group’s taking notes and adding them up to the EduBot Wiki.

Lab Rules and Guidelines

Spring 2011 Lab Warm-up Experiments

# Topic Notes Due Dates
0 Introduction to Junior and Dynamism
Students are introduced to Linux systems and the Junior platform via instructor-guided walkthrough. Topics to be covered: laboratory rules and regulations, basic Linux commands, robot fundamentals, use of Dynamism interface for calibration, standing, locomotion in manual mode, and logging data.
Prelab
Due: 1/20
Demo
Due: 1/27
Report
Due: 1/27
1 Mathematical Underpinnings of a RHex Gait
This experiment was originally devised by Dr. G. Clark Haynes for summer interns in Kodlab. Students are introduced to the basic scheme that allows the RHex family of legged platforms operate over a rich and diverse set of terrains: The Buehler Clock. In this experiment, students, first, investigate various parameters that shape the clock. Then, they use Dynamism interface to tune a walking gait that uses alternating tripods.

Hypothesis : When appropriately phased among the six legs, the two-phase motion (a slow stance phase followed by a fast recirculation phase ) represented by Buehler Clock produces stable locomotion.
Prelab
Due: 1/27
Demo
Due: 2/2
Report
Due: 2/2
2 Dynamics of Steering
Steering and turning in place are quite straightforward concepts for a platform with differential wheel based locomotion capabilities. On the other hand, for a highly mobile platform like RHex, even turning in place is a big challenge once power efficiency and thermal constraints are taken into consideration. In this experiment, students will investigate ways to modify the Buehler clock for turning in place and dynamic steering.

Hypothesis: Turning can be achieved via small adjustments to a straight running gait.
Prelab
Due: 2/2
Demo
Due: 2/24
Report
Due: 2/26
3 Proprioceptive Sensing and Locomotion
In this experiment, students are introduced to some of the proprioceptive sensory capabilities of the Junior platform. According to Wikipedia, proprioception is "… the sensory modality that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally". The goal of this experiment is to integrate given proprioceptive sensory capabilities with locomotive skills developed in the previous experiments to perform a simple planning scheme that lets Junior platform to traverse a known path.

Hypothesis: Proprioceptive sensors can provide insights into interactions between a robotic platform and its environment.
Prelab
Due: 2/24
Demo
Due: 3/3
Report
Due: 3/5

Additional Lab Requirements

In addition to the warm-ups themselves students will be required to keep journals of their progress on the final project, develop and create a technical tutorial and meet with course staff to discuss their ideas for their final project. Below is an outline of each of these requirements.

Journals

Students are expected to complete two journal entries a week via the wiki. At the professional level, engineers are asked to carefully document and record all work. You will be doing something similar throughout this course, writing short journal entries using the Journal link in your User page on the wiki. Journal entries are short and easy to write, simply make a bulleted list describing what you have worked on since your last entry. Bullets can be as detailed as you would like, though it is only required of you to write a sentence or two for each task. See the TA example on the wiki site to see how detailed your bullets can be and how to use the Journal template.

Tutorials

We have provided a variety of tutorial material for this course, but documentation is still incomplete. At some point during the semester, your group must create a tutorial for some equipment or procedure used in class. See the tutorials section of the wiki for examples. Tutorials should be thorough and will be graded. Your group can complete this assignment at any point in the semester. Please consult with a TA or lab instructor before deciding on a topic, and feel free to show them preliminary work to check for completeness.

Research Paper Consultation

Before starting the term research project each group will need to schedule a consultation with one of the course staff. This consultation must be scheduled before the end of week 6 of the course. For the consultation each group should prepare 2-3 proposed research projects that they would like to investigate. For each idea, a brief description (one paragraph) of the project should be prepared that outlines the hypothesis that is being studied and an initial plan on how the project would be implemented (see example on course wiki). Through the consultation the group and the course staff will come to an agreement on the term project that will be investigated.