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Success Stories - Winnipeg Section WIE Rosie the Robot Project

Executive Summary
Rosie the Robot’s first public appearance occurred on March 19th, 2005 at the Manitoba Robot Games (MRG) in front of over 500 people. Spectators, participants, children, and volunteers bombarded the IEEE WIE Winnipeg group with questions and comments regarding Rosie’s design and construction. A great level of interest in the project was generated, even though the MRG Judge’s Choice competition category was eliminated, which subsequently lead to a change in project scope and schedule. The IEEE WIE Winnipeg group is seeking the approval of the IEEE Canadian Foundation to extend the project completion date to April 2006. The team feels this will provide a sufficient time frame to encourage other robot teams to participate in the robot games and therefore ensure there will be a future Judge’s Choice competition. IEEE WIE Winnipeg is committed to completing the project and is diligently pursuing the objectives for which the original grant was made.

Figure 1: The Rosie Team, L-R: Kasia Rak, Mpho Otukile, Kristine Vacola, Evelyn Kayaga, Jennifer Jessop.
Missing: Jeff Blais, Colin Mantay

1.0 Introduction
The objective of the project was to build an autonomous robot, “Rosie the Robot”, for showcasing by IEEE WIE Winnipeg in outreach programs as well as entry into the Judges Choice category for the 2005 MRG. This report outlines the progress since obtaining funding and shows that although the robot is not completed as originally planned, our group met the proposal’s other objectives of using the robot as a showcasing piece for our group, and for project group members to gain knowledge and experience in the design and construction of an autonomous robot.

2.0 Planning
Each planning session involved a three-step process: coffee, napkins (for sketching) and Timbits. These planning sessions gave inspiration to Rosie’s design and functionality. During the planning stages, the group thought through as idea from concept to reality, facing the limitations of technology, costs and imagination. Initial planning meetings and proposal drafting brought about more detailed and realistic designs, parts lists and potential methods of construction. During the planning process, both the physical construction of the robot and methods for controlling the robot’s functionality were considered simultaneously as each affected and limited the other. Group dynamics evolved over time as group members brainstormed ideas, drew pictures, evaluated different options, and defended their ideas to the bitter end. Refer to Appendix A for a full schedule of team meetings.

Figure 2: Rosie Planning Sessions

3.0 Design
3.1 Internal Structure
3.1.1 Physical Design of Body
Rosie’s body consists of three modular sections: the base, mid-section and head. Each is composed of a wood frame encompassed by PET-G plastic. The base sits on top of the steel tube frame; an interconnected steel shaft running through Rosie’s center from the steel support base, while the head is mounted on a stepper motor connected to the internal support shaft connects the mid-section to the head. The initial modular body sections were prototyped using cardboard to finalize dimensions and develop a pattern for efficient body construction. This resulted in the following dimensions:
• Base: 22” L x 22” W x 20” H
• Mid-section: 22” L x 18” W x 18” H
• Head: 14”L x 12” circular diameter

Figure 3: Rosie Cardboard Prototype

Figure 4: (left) Wooden Skeleton & Base, (right) PET-G Skirt Structure

3.1.2 Mechanical Design & Motor Control
The steel tube frame construction was designed to support the bulk of Rosie’s significant weight (just under 100lbs). The multi layer steel frame was needed to accommodate the heavy equipment, including battery, motors with chain drive, inverter, cabling, bus work, protection circuitry, processor, and electronics. Placing the bulk of the weight at the base of Rosie’s body keeps the center of mass low to the ground and thus increases stability. Two tires with roller bearings on each of two steel axels provide the mobility needed based on skid type steering. Two motors, from the power windows of a 1986 Toyota Camry, will provide the driving force for the robot.

Figure 5: Axel Structure & Team Welding

Figure 6: Team Welding & Multi-Layer Steel Frame

3.2 Electrical Systems-Power Supply Circuit
Rosie’s power supply is based on a 12V and 39Ahr spill proof lead acid battery and a DC-AC inverter. The inverter provides 115V (AC) to two computer power supplies, which are used in turn to provide a stable source of power for the computer and external peripheral electronic devices such as the PICs and sensors. A batter charger circuit was designed and constructed to provide necessary amperage and to minimize charging time since there were no “off-the-shelf” components available.

3.3 Electronics
The control will be implemented through a CPU, several PICs and various sensors. The sensors provide the real world data to PIC micro controllers which in turn provide the CPU with the necessary data for high level control. Analog infrared sensors, limited to a sensing range of 150cm, will be placed along the perimeter of the steel base. Four sensors are installed vertically downward to sense and avoid drastic changes in elevations, i.e. stairs. The four sensors are installed horizontally to gage oncoming objects. For safety reasons, a kill-switch is implemented to provide instantaneous shutdown. Tentative plans have the kill switch located on Rosie’s backside.

3.3.2 Programming
The CPU, through the use of Visual Basic software, will be used to provide the high-level control interface for Rosie. The sensors will be polled by PICs (Microchip 16F8778), with A/D capability, and the PIC will send the sensor data to the CPU for analysis. The CPU will, through the use of the PICs, send signals to the motors to react appropriately. Although several PICs will be used for the various sensors and motor control, one main PIC will control them and it will be interfaced to the CPU through an RS232 and 485- chip.

Figure 7: Robot CPU & Power Supply

4.0 Implementation
After the initial and detailed designs were completed the process of obtaining parts was undertaken. Parts came from many sources in order to minimize expenditures, these included local stores, salvage yards, and Internet suppliers. The following tasks were performed once parts were obtained allowing construction to commence:
• Constructing the steel tube base for mobility and navigation, including axles and wheels
• Mounting of battery, inverter, buswork, and electronics on the base
• Constructing the frame or robot skeleton from wood based on cardboard prototype patterns
• Constructing of three body sections, including mounting of plastic on wood skeleton, priming, painting, and polishing.
• Wiring of components including battery, inverter, busbar, solenoid, etc.
• Conductivity testing to verify connections
• PCB fabrication of battery charger circuit
• Testing of control system
• Refurbishing and testing of motors
• Machining custom drive shafts for motors
• Calibrating and testing of sensors
• Visual Basic Programming
• PIC firmware programming

5.0 Project Evaluation
The objectives for this project were to enter “Rosie the Robot” in the category of “Judges’ Choice” for the 2005 Manitoba Robot Games, and to showcase at local WIE events to garner interest in engineering, WIE and the IEEE. The process of designing and building “Rosie the Robot” taught WIE project members valuable skills such as soldering, welding, electronic layout and design, and robot body construction.

5.1 MRG Entry
As the MRG competition approached, information obtained from MRG planning committee indicated that the “Judges’ Choice” category would be eliminated. Unfortunately, Rosie’s dimensions and mass disqualified her from entry in any other category. The project group decided to try to enter her again next year in the 2006 Manitoba Robot Games.

5.2 Event Showcasing
Rosie was effectively displayed in her current form at the annual Manitoba Robot Games held on March 19th and 20th, 2005 at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The multimedia display included, Rosie, a poster board showing the construction progression, a Power Point presentation on Engineering specifically geared towards school-aged children, and the IEEE WIE display from IEEE WIE headquarters (which included items for distribution to kids and the general public like puzzles, pencils and brochures).

Figure 8: IEEE WIE Members at MRG

During the two-day event the display was situated near the main entrance and garnered considerable interest in the robot, IEEE WIE activities, and engineering in general. Contact was made with several educators from various schools in the city and our group was asked to make specific presentations to these schools about engineering, science and technology, robotics, and the steps required get involved in events like MRG. In addition to this report, the progression of the robot will be showcased on IEEE WIE Winnipeg website in a photo gallery with accompanying descriptions, diagrams, and ways to get involved in the Rosie project. The gallery and website will be updated for future events which Rosie attends, and the progression she goes through.

5.3 Teaching Valuable Skills
The educational backgrounds of the project team members were varied, some are graduates of electrical and computer engineering, while others are graduates of technical colleges, and some are still students of both graduate and undergraduate programs. We all learned new and practical skills from each other such as:
• Wooden skeleton structures
• Steel acetylene cutting and tacking
• Steel arc welding
• Electronic soldering
• PCB layout and design
• Electronics design
• Body finishing, including working with Bondo products, sanding and painting
• Basic construction principles and working with power tools
• Report writing skills
• Project management
• Scheduling and costing
These skills can be transferred to our continuing studies and workplaces in many different kinds of projects. Those of us who had never soldered electronics before, or had done any kind of PCB construction are grateful for the instruction we received from fellow project members. Our growth as engineers, technicians, IEEE members and students will only increase with our continued progress on this robot-building project.

6.0 Rosie on Display
Upon learning of the MRG Judges Choice category elimination, the group contacted WIE Headquarters in Piscataway to order promotional materials and the WIE display. Since IEEE Winnipeg Section and WIE Winnipeg are both sponsors of the Manitoba Robot Games, WIE was able to secure display space for the WIE booth and Rosie the Robot at the Manitoba Museum for the days of the robot competition.

Figure 9: MRG 2005 Event Poster

WIE has been working with the Manitoba Robot Games Planning Committee to develop a collaborative relationship in an effort to promote robotics, and ultimately careers in math & science to young women and men. We have been doing this by organizing and attending robotics workshops for young people. Specifically, at the Manitoba Robot Games Competition held March 19 & 20, 2005, WIE Winnipeg set up the WIE display along with a supporting display to showcase the Rosie the Robot project, and had WIE Executive committee members on hand to answer spectator questions. The exercise of planning, designing building the robot allowed the project team members a greater understanding and appreciation of robotics so that they were able to answer spectator questions and explain the various design processes that were employed as part of building the robot. The demonstration included handing out brochures about WIE and Engineering, handing out zoom into engineering pencils, balloons, and WIE 3-D puzzles to children who approached the display, showing a PowerPoint presentation about careers in engineering, answering questions about IEEE & WIE, as well as answering questions about and the design and construction of the Rosie the Robot Project to anyone who expressed an interest. Our aim was to present engineering as a fun and interesting career choice.

Figure 10: IEEE WIE Outreach

We attracted those in attendance through our enthusiasm for robotics, having the Jetsons’ theme song heard from our display area, and simply the interest generated from having Rosie the Robot on display. Our executive committee members were able to demonstrate their knowledge of computers, electrical & control systems, electronics, mechanical design & construction, and how all these systems work together in the area of robotics. Even though these topics can be intimidating and complex, they were presented in a fun and interesting way. The event was also an opportunity to network with like-minded groups.

Figure 11: Rosie the Robot & Posterboard Display at MRG

Over the Course of the two day Robot Competition WIE:
• Spoke to over 200 young Girls and Boys and encouraged them to build robots
• Talked to over 200 Spectators and answered questions about IEEE & WIE
• Promoted the long term WIE goals of gaining an interest and appreciation in robotics and electronics, and IEEE membership, with other like minded groups present-The Certified Professional Association of Technicians & Technologists Association of Manitoba (CTTAM), The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba(APEGM), The Manitoba Robot Games(MRG) Planning Committee, UMRobotica- The University of Manitoba Robotics Club, & Science Council of Manitoba.

7.0 Project Income & Expenditures
7.1 Project Income

Funds Secured From                         Amount
IEEE Canadian Foundation               $1500.00
IEEE Winnipeg Section                       $150.00
IEEE WIE Winnipeg Affinity Group     $200.00
TOTAL PROJECT INCOME                 $1850.00
Total Value of Donated Parts             $634.00

The IEEE Winnipeg Section agreed to support the Rosie the Robot Project in the amount of $150.00 The Winnipeg Section has also advanced the IEEE Canadian Foundation funds in the amount of $1500.00 to allowing the WIE group to progress with implementation of the project.

The IEEE WIE Affinity Group agreed to fundraise, through events, and support the Rosie the Robot project by using $200 of their own funds toward the project.

WIE team members sought out additional sources of funding and were successful in obtaining a value of $634.00 in donated parts.

Additional sources of donated funds are still pending. These include corporate sponsorship from Canadian Tire and a reply from the Cartoon Network regarding use of the Rosie the Robot name and a request for funding support. The group is always on the lookout for possible sources of support for the robot project.

7.2 Project Expenditures
The total project expenditures to date are $1846.18.

8.0 Plan for Project Completion
The group plans to complete and showcase Rosie Robot at the 2006 Manitoba Robot Games to be held at Tec Voc High school on March 18 & 19, 2006. This timeframe will give the group sufficient time to complete the project, as well as add additional functionality.

9.0 Future plans for Rosie

• Hold design competition to design subsystems of Rosie.
• Event to focus on up and coming engineers.
• Sell advertising space on Rosie’s skirt.
• Showcasing at future IEEE WIE events
• Promotional tool for robotics
• Use as a fun and educational tool for school-age children
• Lean, mean, dancin’ machine
• Rosie, the personal security tool
• Future IEEE WIE Winnipeg mascot
• Lucky’s fire hydrant

Figure 12: Current IEEE WIE Mascot: Lucky the dog

For more information contact Jennifer .

Photos provided by Jennifer Jessop, WIE Affinity Group Chair, Winnipeg Section

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