Explorers and Microvision Robots
The Explorer is one of several robots designed at the Center for Distributed Robotics at the University of Minnesota. Its purpose is to provide research scientists with an advanced, safe, and easy to use mobile robotic platform. While it may look deceptively similar to its predecessor, the eROSI, it is different in all aspects of design - from the mechanical structure and electrical hardware, to its software processing capabilities.
The Explorer robot has a specially designed power management system developed to provide a virtual gas gauge with respect to available power. In addition, there is integrated battery management and charging capabilities. Combined, these compatibilities allow the Explorer to autonomously recharge itself within the Docking Bay.
The Explorer is used in robotics demonstrations hosted by the Center for Distributed Robotics. The robot is controlled using a Nintendo Wiimote controller; this creates an intuitive and fun setting for students to experience robotics research.
Another project at the Center for Distributed Robotics is the Microvision Robot. Taking the explorer as inspiration for its base design the Microvision comes equipped with a laser scanner, an improved camera and a more powerful processing unit. The increase in computing power explains the size differences, as the Microvision Robot is equipped with a PC104 stack that can process data far faster than the Explorer's Gumstix processor. Complex vision algorithms can be performed onboard this robot in real time.
Demonstration and Videos
The work on these two robots has been supported by the National Science Foundation under the project number #0708344: Collaborative Research: CRI: IAD: Research/Education Infrastructure Based on Modular Miniature Robot Teams.
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