Enhancements to NI Robotics Starter Kit

Photo of Barret Hendricks, Alex Luecke, Jody Van Reet Students: Barret Hendricks, Alex Luecke, Jody Van Reet

Sponsor: National Instruments

Date: Spring 2011

The robot was required to utilize LabVIEW's vision processing capabilities to locate and identify balls. The pool cue was modified so that it could rotate to take angled shots and actuate without a compressed air source. The LabVIEW code was required to provide an interactive user interface and to be capable of making up to 5 shots. The the output torque of the robot's motors was limited to300 oz-in.

Our team's goal was to demonstrate the capabilities of National Instruments' new robotics prototyping platform, the LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit, by developing a pool-playing robot. The final robot will be displayed as an interactive demo at NIWeek 2011, NI's annual technology conference. Starting from the previous team's groundwork, our design team completed the implementation of an autonomous, interactive pool-playing robot. Key tasks included improving the range of motion of the pool cue actuator and improving the vision capabilities of the robot.

The mechanical design involved adding rotation and developing a new cue mechanism. The team developed a cam-and-spring mechanism to provide linear actuation. In order to perform angled shots, the cue rotates concentrically around the billiard ball, allowing rail position and cue angle to change independently. The rotation is provided by a chain and sprocket drive powered by a DC motor. The electrical design involved wiring components to the single board RIO and establishing a wireless network. The computer connects wirelessly to both the camera and robot through a wireless access point. A third separate motor controller is connected to the board. Limit sensors are connected to digital input ports on the sbRIO, allowing the robot to detect the rail ends. Besides digital signals, power is also drawn from the board to power the wireless access point, router, and camera in order to remove tethers from the robot to the outside world. The software design involved automating the robot and developing its vision processing. A custom vision VI was developed to detect a ball in the range of view during a visual scan of the table. The VI runs on the host computer and returns values indicating whether a ball is detected, the identity of the ball, and the location of the center of the ball. Two other VIs, the FPGA code and RealTime (RT) code, were developed to run on the robot. The FPGA code interfaces with the hardware components, such as motors and sensors, while the RT code operates the robot. The RT code was developed in a sequential flow in which the robot follows the steps of scanning the table, interacting with the user, and executing shots. To view a demonstration of the final product please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb7bgj9Je6c

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