Topic Name: MECHATRONICS/ROBOTICS
Research persons: Mechatronics Research in the department :Curtin University of Technology, Perth CRICOS
Location: Sydney, Austria
Three-dimensional simulations of robots and modular manipulators using object-oriented programming methods
Work is currently being carried out to develop a program to model the kinematics and movements of serial-link robotic manipulators. For example, a working Joystick driver program has been developed that allows Visual Basic (for Windows 98) to read the button states and axis positions for a 4-button, 2-axis joystick. This can be used to control the walking/gait movements of a 3D graphics simulation of a walking robot undergoing different types of movements (walking forwards/backwards, sideways, rotation on the spot, steering left/right while advancing, standing up and crouching down, and adapting its feet while walking over rough terrain).
Development of a walking and wheeled hydraulic robot
There is a growing need to combine the benefits of high speed wheeled locomotion with the highly adaptable, flexible foundation capabilities of multi-jointed legs, to enable land based vehicles to travel almost anywhere over any type of rough or hilly terrain. The goal of this project is to design and build a full-size, hydraulic-powered human passenger carrying vehicle which can travel in any virtually any direction, walk over extremely broken ground and climb over rough terrain with slopes up to 45° to the horizontal. The prototype robot, known as the 'Hydrobug', is a 'hybrid' vehicle (i.e. walking and wheeled modes) that should theoretically be able to reach speeds of up to 50 km/hour in wheeled mode, and travel at up to 5 km/hour in walking mode. At present, the majority of the mechanical design work has been completed and it is expected that the hydraulic "power pack" system will soon be assembled and operational. It is expected that one leg will be completely operational this year, as part of a MSc project. Currently, we are seeking sponsors to help support this project so that the robot can be completed over the next few years.
Driver fatigue warning systems
This project has seen the development and patenting of a low cost machine-vision based driver fatigue alarm that alerts a vehicle driver to unintentionally drifting or leaving a marked road lane, as defined by the left and right white or yellow lines painted on the bitumen. It uses 2 CCD line-scan cameras attached to an 8-bit "HC11" microprocessor, with Analog-to-Digital (A/D) converters. The HC11 automatically adjusts to different brightness levels and ambient lighting, filtering out all "false" images that can lead to false alarms. This device has the potential to be a "standard" safety device on all cars, trucks and buses; it is currently being evaluated by a major automobile manufacturer.
(An early prototype of the device was demonstrated nationwide in December 1996 on Channel 9's "Today Show" - Reporter: Ms Karen Milliner.)