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Demobot - Semester Update

The Demobot committee is off to a great start this semester!

Demobot is a non-competitive committee where members work on student led robotics projects in the makerspace. Members are free to move between projects and choose tasks that involve any topics they want to learn, and we use the UT R.A.S. community to connect each person to learning resources. The size of our group has grown to about twenty people, and we have decided to start with three projects:

These projects are continuations from last year, and each one has some basic functionality or proof of concept working. For our first round of projects this semester we plan to redesign, rebuild, and modify these ideas. These are a great set of projects to start with because they include opportunities to explore aspects of both mechanical and software design, embedded systems, microcontrollers, 3D printing, power management, web servers, wireless protocols, motors, and advanced sensors such as GPS and lidar.

The IoT Polargraph is a web connected drawing machine. Two stepper motors are connected to a pen by a pulley system, and they can move the pen and draw lines. They are controlled by a WiFi enabled microcontroller, which connects to an IoT device manager API. This means we can securely control it from any device connected to the internet. Right now, our user interface is a webapp with Google sign-in and an input for SVG vector files. We plan to use this project to experiment with wireless and IoT technologies, stepper control, PCB design, embedded multitasking, and web development.

The moving couch is a long time R.A.S. favorite. Our goal is to bring the moving couch back to life with a new drive system, controller, and look. The mechanical group is currently working on detailed CAD models of the new drive system and a list of parts. The electrical and software groups are brainstorming plans for wireless controllers, emergency control systems, a lighting system, and other interesting modifications.

The autonomous vehicle project is a continuation of the robot from last year’s Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) team. This autonomous four wheeled vehicle uses sensors such as Lidar, GPS, IMU’s, and cameras with image processing to navigate an outdoor course. The robot runs on Robotic Operating System (ROS), which is a framework that abstracts robotics hardware into a node based control system, and provides architecture for communication between processes and device control. Our objectives for this semester are to become familiar with ROS, play around with the sensors, and start prototyping designs.

We meet Thursdays and Saturdays at 5pm in the Makerspace. Join the #demobot channel on the R.A.S. Slack or come to a meeting if you want to get involved!


couch moving


polargraph drawing

Author: Cole Thompson