The campaign is only 46% funded and has 1 day left! Help the Sooner Rover Team get to competition this year with a donation as little as $5.00. Every little bit helps!
AT&T hosted the Sooner Rover Team at their offices in Dallas, TX on April 21, 2017. AME Board Member and AT&T Assistant VP of Technology Monica Browning Mitchell invited the team to tour the operations and labs in Plano, TX and to have lunch at the AT&T headquarters.
The team had lunch with CEO Randall Stephenson, Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan and President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
After lunch, the Sooner Rover Team traveled to Plano to explore the social media operations center and labs. The lab makes use of 3D printing and some forward-thinking engineering skills.
Dr. Michael Zavlanos visited AME on February 2, 2017 as part of Dr. Andrea L’Afflitto’s Dream Course, Modern Control Theory and Applications.
Abstract: Current robotic systems have the potential to accomplish a previously intractable scope of tasks. Their ever growing capabilities will soon allow them to operate autonomously outside the lab, in remote, unpredictable, and uncertain environments, where the presence of humans is dangerous or even impossible. For this to become possible, a fundamental challenge is to develop new methods that will enable teams of robotic sensors to collaboratively explore unknown environments and extract concise actionable information. In this talk,we present a novel approach to dynamically synthesize optimal controllers for a robotic sensor network tasked with estimating a collection of hidden states. The key idea is to divide the hidden states into clusters and then use dynamic programming to determine optimal trajectories around each hidden state as well as how far along the local optimal trajectories the robot should travel before transitioning to estimating the next hidden state within the cluster. Then, a distributed assignment algorithm is used to dynamically allocate controllers to the robot team from the set of optimal control policies at every cluster. Compared to relevant distributed state estimation methods, our approach scales very well to large teams of mobile robots and hidden vectors. We also present a distributed state estimation method that allows mobile sensor networks to estimate a set of hidden states up to a user-specified accuracy. This is done by formulating a LMI constrained optimization problem to minimize the worst case state uncertainty, which we solve in a distributed way using a new random approximate projections method that is robust to the state disagreement errors that exist among the robots as an Information Consensus Filter (ICF) fuses the collected measurements. To our knowledge, even though the distributed active sensing literature is well-developed, the ability to control worst-case estimation uncertainty in a distributed fashion is new. We present numerical simulations and experimental results that show the efficiency of the reposed methods.
Bio: Michael M. Zavlanos received the Diploma in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Athens, Greece, in 2002, and the M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, in 2005 and 2008, respectively. From 2008 to 2009 he was a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He then joined the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, where he remained until 2012. Currently, he is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University, Durham, NC. He also holds a secondary appointment in the department of electrical and computer engineering. His research interests include a wide range of topics in the emerging discipline of networked systems, with applications in robotic, sensor, and communication networks. He is particularly interested in hybrid solution techniques, on the interface of control theory, distributed optimization, estimation, and networking. Dr. Zavlanos is a recipient of the 2014 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award, the 2011 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, as well as Best Student Paper Awards at GlobalSIP 2014 and CDC 2006.
Throughout the fall semester, students taking the pre-capstone AME course, “Principles of Engineering Design” worked on a project that led up to a final performance test. The problem description is created out of a fascinating anthology of problems.
The students’ task was to design, build and test a robot that has the ability to travel through an obstacle course and end by piercing a Styrofoam board, hopefully popping the balloon housed underneath. The teams were given 2 attempts to complete both aspects of the task with an optional 5-minute break to fix their robot or make alterations.
Each team consisted of a group of 4-5 interdisciplinary engineering students, ranging from mechanical to petroleum.
According to Senior Mechanical Engineering student Ciore Taylor, the class consisted of lessons about the design and planning phases. Teams initially determined the different skills each person in the group had, then moved on to coming up with different designs, then come to conclude the design process. Students were encouraged to use their imagination when coming up with the designs of the robot.
David Miller’s Space Robotics Class recently tested their balloon flight. Most high altitude balloons spin uncontrollably. This project used two wings to control the yaw of the payload.
The camera pointed in a fixed direction for two minutes. It would then spin clockwise for 15 seconds, stabilize again for 2 minutes, and then spin counterclockwise for 15 seconds. This repeated for the 200 minute ascent. The balloon popped at about 90,000 feet and the payload returned using a one meter parachute. Yaw control terminated when the payload had dropped 10,000 feet below the max altitude. The payload also contained, pressure, temperature, humidity and UV sensors. The camera looked at the squeeze toy and art model of an astronaut helmet in the foreground. Most of the ascent is shown at 20 times the original speed. Stability can be observed by seeing the sun highlights in the eyes. They are steady for about six seconds, and then spin clockwise or counterclockwise for one second (15 seconds in real-time) as the payload does a spin. The highlights hold steady for another six seconds.
Sooner Rover Team recently took home the gold at the 6th Annual RASC-AL Robo-Ops Challenge sponsored by NASA. Not only did the Sooner Rover Team win the national competition, they set records, beating the standing rock yard record by over 200%. The team finished with a final score of 132. The second place team trailed behind with a score of 48.
The Robo-Ops Challenge took place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The selected student teams had to design life-sized rovers that could move and climb through various terrain, collect rock samples and store them, and navigate through the rock yard all while being controlled remotely from each team’s home university with real-time video feeds from the rovers’ cameras. Teams had one hour to collect and secure the rock samples along with bonus challenges. In addition to the rock yard challenge, teams also had to present a technical paper, a poster and carry out a public outreach program.
Among the eight teams at the competition, Sooner Rover Team stood out from the beginning with their unique design. Rovie McRoverface (the rover’s given name) was modeled after a 1980’s Russian lunar rover featuring a spine, six cone-shaped wheels and a robotic arm. This allowed the rover to bend and travel through various terrain at the competition more easily. Clearly, the unique design paid off.
Rovie McRoverface collected all 26 rock samples and completed all four bonus challenges flawlessly. The team’s score was recorded on the scoreboard by NASA followed with a “WOW.” But, seriously.
“I felt a little like I was dreaming that the rover was performing so well,” said Dane Schoelen, Sooner Rover Team Project Lead. “When mission control successfully completed the contingencies task through amazing teamwork and improvisation, I felt like there was no way I wasn’t dreaming. It is satisfying that after all of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating our rover, we were able to put on an outstanding performance.”
The team is made up of all Gallogly College of Engineering students and advised by AME Professor David Miller, Ph.D. The team members at mission control were Bill Doyle, Brent Wolf, Alex Borgerding, Jacob Jordan, Oskar Paredes, Ashley Findley, Janella Clary, Matthew Solcher and Aaron Condreay, and the members who went to competition were Nathan Justus, Dane Schoelen and Kevin Cotrone.
The team won first place, broke and set records and brought home a $6,000 prize that they hope will go towards next year’s rover. It is safe to say the team will be set with experienced members as Nathan Justus was the only senior. He will start his career at NASA in Houston as an operations engineer at mission control for the International Space Station.
“I cannot emphasize enough how hard our team worked to make sure that we were prepared for that day. Our performance and the recognition we got from NASA, NIA, and the other teams made all of that work worth it,” said Nathan Justus, Sooner Rover Team Chief Engineer. “Of course, the project had merit of its own and the learning process was substantial, but whatever, it feels good to have DESTROYED and earned that with blood and mind power.”
Congratulations, Sooner Rover Team! We are so proud of your hard work and success!
The Sooner Rover Team was featured on KOKH Fox 25 news on Tuesday, April 12th. Check out the segment below. The Sooner Rover Team will be at the Norman Public Library on Saturday, April 30th at 2:00PM to showcase their rover and tell you all about the upcoming competition. For more information, visit www.soonerrover.com
View photos of the segment on the AME Facebook page.
We hope you enjoy the annual AME Newsletter! Happy Holidays from all of us at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma!
The Sooner Rover Team was one of only eight teams selected to compete in the 6th Annual NASA RASC-AL Robo-Ops Challenge. The team received $10,000 from NASA to build a planetary rover prototype, which they will use to complete a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Rock Yard in Houston, Texas in May 2016. The winning competition team will win a $6,000 prize.
The other teams selected for the competition include California State University Long Beach, University of California at Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of Buffalo in New York, University of Utah, University of Wyoming and West Virginia University.
The competition team, made up of AME students, includes Bill Doyle (BS ME), Jacob Jordan (BS ME), Nathan Justus (BS AE), Dane Schoelen (BS ME) and Brent Wolf (BS ME). The team is advised by Dr. David Miller.
Click here to view the official NASA news release.
Congratulations to the Sooner Rover Team. Next stop: Texas!