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We propose to design a wireless robotic car system using advanced technology. Such a system can be implemented in various ways; here we nominate a prototype for this system taking possible subsequent improvements of the system into account. In this prototype, the task is to design a robotic car that can be controlled by a computer using wireless communication technology.The robot has a vision facility that uses a ‘live webcam’ which can not only observe the nearby surroundings but also, transfer it to a computer.
The robot can be controlled in several ways, with movements ranging up to 100m. This robot should be able to move forward, backward, right turn, left turn, reduce or increase speed. Since the robot is a wireless system, transmitters and receivers should be designed to satisfy the system features. Also, the system will provide live video streaming using a built-in camera that has the capability to provide night vision.
People usually would not take the risk of walking into a building wired with explosives, but would rather have someone or something do the job. For this reason a robotic car will come in handy for these kinds of dangerous jobs and even more.
The idea is to have a robotic car controlled wirelessly via a computer. The mechanical structure of the robot body will be based on an off shelf electric car. The car body is used only along with the wheels. The system will be controlled by a special microcontroller. This microcontroller will allow the user to control the direction, movement, and speed of the car. In addition, the microcontroller has a means of communication. A camera will also be installed on top of the car to provide a live stream video.
A Microcontroller is a small computer. It consists of a simple central processing unit (CPU), input and output ports, clocks, timers, memory and is incorporated on a single integrated circuit. It is therefore basically a central processor on a single chip. Also included in the microprocessor chip is some program memory and a small RAM. The small size and simplicity associated with microprocessors therefore makes them suitable for small applications. Many microprocessors can however be combined to perform many dedicated duties in complex systems as used in PCs. Microprocessors operate at very low clock rate speeds and therefore consume minimal power. These makes them particularly appropriate for battery operations that last for long hours because they have the ability to continue functioning while waiting for actions such as button actuations. Their power consumption while inactive is jus in nano watts making them perfect for application in Robotics. Typically, microprocessors are used in devices that can be controlled automatically like implantable medical devices, remote controls, office appliances, toys, power tools and automobile engine control systems. They make it possible to control to more devices and processes digitally yet at a lower cost in comparison to designs that use different microprocessors, memory and I/O devises. The ROM incorporated in the microcontroller stores data and programs developed to run the project.
Many of the available microcontrollers in the market have a minimum of 8 digital I/O lines with some having up to 32.All these are important in many a[application but the list below shows some important features important for use in robotics:
- A/D (Analogue digital converter).This is vital in the project because it would allow signals sent from sensors on the robot to be outputted as analogue values that can then be interpreted for use and/or display.
- A good serial port is very important because it aids in program development and in debugging. This would help in the development of programs that would be used to smartly control the robot. It could be programmed to automatically change direction for example in case it encounters an obstacle.
- For smooth operation of the motors in direction and pulse, 8 bits are required in the least. Four for input and four for the output. From the above literature above, microcontrollers support a lot more than this and this would be a valuable feature.
- Good timer sections are also very good as they aid in taking measurements and displaying waveforms.
Chips that would find favour among robotics engineers must also have a variety of peripherals that might include timer modules and onboard serial ports. This allows foe flexibility and adaptation in the event of any changes in design. If a chip can start in bootstrap mode, it can the n allow the user to download software directly onto the onboard RAM using the serial port. This eliminates the need for programming hardware which comes at an additional cost. Sensors on the other hand are used to translate measurable quantities into a language understood by a computer. They could be analogue or digital in nature. A good chip should have a digital analogue converter to allow for flexibility in the use of materials that may be dictated by the cost.
Embedded systems consist of a microprocessor that has its own memory and peripherals.The only thing that needs to be added to the system is a program to run it .
Wireless Cameras on the other hand cameras mostly used for different modes of surveillance systems and other mobile appliances that require cameras. Video transmitters and receivers are essential in enabling wireless video transmission. In-built video transmitters are used to send video signals to remote receivers through specific frequencies. This signal is then relayed onto a monitor that displays the video. The fact that these cameras are wireless makes them valuable in mobile applications because then the interference to smooth navigation by long cables is eliminated.
A Wireless transceiver module is a device that converts radio frequency commands from X10 remote controls and other cordless movement detectors to X10 signals that are then easily relayed over the regular wired networks. These modules can therefore allow for control of different appliances remotely. It is often used in control of home appliances. The above described wireless technology is what is expected to be applied in order to come up with a sound project that can be remotely controlled. The wireless video cameras will allow for easy monitoring and aid in navigating the robotic car.
The first step performed was the research part in which it provided a look at the different and latest technologies to implement such a system and to get the best methodology. Two possible approaches to implement the system were considered. The first approach is to use a remote controlled car with a handheld controller. This approach utilizes a video camera and controls the car by transmitters and receivers with same frequency singles. The direction of the camera can be adjusted via the transmitter using a handheld remote control. The second approach is a remote controlled robot using a computer as a controller. In this approach a video camera is used to transmit the robot position and movement to a computer which can be used to control the functions and the movements of the robot. The transmitted and received signals are on different frequencies to prevent interference.
To implement a wireless robotic car that can be controlled by computer with coverage up to 100 meter. The movement of the car will be conducted using wireless communication technology between the microcontroller and a computer. In video streaming, the content is sent over the internet and allows the receiver to directly view it without having to download the content first .This is the technology used to enable users listen to live radio over the internet. Video streaming however has its disadvantages especially in terms of bandwidth. Unless there is sufficient bandwidth, the users are not able to receive acceptable video quality . Also streaming at low speeds results in frequent video ‘hanging’ .
The assumption made here is that there are some places with explosives or even radioactive rays which affect human health. In addition, it can be used for military purposes such as spying missions and for places inaccessible to people. The wireless controls incorporated in the system will ensure safety in times when human life is at threat in the event that the person enters a danger zone. The Robotic car could be used to monitor danger zones like areas affected by gas leaks so long as the gases involved are not flammable. This is vital in situations where there might be some casualties that could survive but cannot be seen owing to the reduced vision brought about by the gases that in most cases are coloured. The wheels on the robotics car are also another good invention because these together with the live video streaming would enable easy navigation of the car into area as long as staircases are not involved. The video stream would also allow the person controlling the car to navigate it easily around obstacle and to the target destination fast. The batteries to be used on this project will allow the car to move around quite a long distance because there would be no need for a cable connecting it to a power source. This is vital in navigation because it eliminates the risk of the car intertwining with the cable to make navigation a problem.
Implementation and testing Plan
The implementation process will be as follows:
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- Implement the robot body and test that motors and wheels are in good working condition
- Prepare the wireless camera and test how the camera functions and how it operates and behaves on certain environments using the software that comes along with the camera.
- Implement the wireless transceiver and test its reliability by first connecting between two computers and then between a computer and microcontroller.
- Prepare the code and test it in the microcontroller and insure it is working.
- Implement the final PCB on the car and test the functionality of the car.
- Create graphic user interface to be able to control the robot allowing easy control and simple view.
One of the key elements of success in any project is planning. It is crucial to define all the tasks that need to be accomplished with the purpose of completing the project. As regards the tasks to be fulfilled, a Gantt chart was created as below:
Economic analysis is defined as a means of determining the usefulness of a product by comparing one or more alternatives in achieving a set objective . This takes into focus the cost of the input into the project in terms of resources, time, knowledge and expertise.The monetary value of the product is also brought into focus with special attention paid to the social and implication of the project .
In terms of the economic impact it would have on society, the robotic car is built with the aim reducing human casualties besides being able to monitor boring activities. In instances of fires for example, the robot could be used to monitor large areas because of its ability to stream videos. This could be a complimentary service in addition to use of fire detectors which in most cases rely on smoke detectors. The huge losses incurred during fire incidents would therefore be greatly cut. It has also been suggested above that the robot could be used for spy missions by the military and secret security agencies. The economic impact of this would be immense.Once the robot is cleared for mass production; the cost of producing one spy robot would be very little in comparison to the investment put into training a man to carry out spy missions. The investment in training a human both in terms of time and money is a lot. Owing to all these benefits, the resources, time, knowledge and expertise invested in developing the robotic car would surely be well spent if the project is successful.
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