Mars Rover Robot (MRR)

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Request for Proposal: Mars Rover Robot (MRR)



Introduction and Overview

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently received strong evidence of volcanic activity on the long-believed volcanically dormant planet, Mars. Radar measurements from the Mars Express spacecraft have detected the presence of a 20 km wide lake of liquid water located underneath a layer of ice in the Planum Australe region. Modern research about the discovery suggests that the only way to maintain water in the liquid state in the conditions present on Mars is with the presence of a magma chamber located underneath the body of liquid water. To explore the possibility of active volcanic activity on the Red Planet, NASA has issued a request for proposal for a Mars Rover Robot (MRR) that is capable of traversing the steep slopes of Olympus Mons, the second tallest mountain and largest volcano in the solar system. This rover will dig near the base of the volcano and photograph it from its peak. By studying the data obtained, NASA hopes to understand the past volcanic activity of the planet and use that data to weigh the possibility of present-day volcanic activity.

The mission has two parts that must be completed. The first part is to collect a rock sample and bring it back to the start tile for analysis. The second part of the mission involves climbing to the peak of Olympus Mons to take a picture of the surrounding environment. To complete the mission, a sensor must be used to increase the accuracy of the rover's movement.

Specifications

Design a robot using Fusion 360 as the primary design tool. The robot must meet the following specifications:

  • Size & Material Constraints
    • The robot must fit within a 15" x 15" footprint.
    • The design must use the materials provided. A cost estimate of the robot’s components must be created and all revisions to the cost estimate must be recorded and explained.
    • The robot must use no more than two motors.
  • Sensor Requirement
    • The design must incorporate a sensor. This could be a gyro, ultrasonic, touch or IR obstacle sensor.
  • Microcontroller Requirement
    • The robot’s movements must be directed by an Arduino program. All revisions to the Arduino program must be recorded and explained.
  • Autonomous Navigation
    • The robot must be fully autonomous, and so cannot be touched during testing. The Arduino program may not be altered or switched during any part of the mission.


Please refer to the course syllabus for all due dates.

Please note that this project aims to reflect certain real-life scenarios; the robot must be able to handle minor imperfections in the course. Any attempt to physically step on the course or have the robot drive off a cliff is unsafe and will result in a point penalty in the final project grade.

Course Layout

The MRR course (Figure 1) consists of two primary ramps, labeled Ramps 2 and 3, and one additional ramp, Ramp 1. The robot must traverse the uneven terrain to reach the rock sample, return to the Start tile, and traverse Ramps 2 and 3 and come to a complete stop at the peak. For extra credit, the robot can traverse Ramp 1, incorporate an additional sensor, and/or return to the start tile at the end of the run. In completing the extra credit, the robot must descend on the primary ramp for Commissioning. The robot cannot jump off the primary ramp directly to Ramp 1.


Figure 1: View of MRR Course

Microsoft Project

A project schedule must be created in Microsoft Project. Learn to use Microsoft Project by accessing the Microsoft Project Student Guide. This schedule must include all tasks related to the project from the start of the project to Early or Final submission. Click here to access the guide on how to transfer a file. The Microsoft Project schedule should include:

  • Minimum of 20 tasks, excluding Milestones
  • Milestones should be clearly indicated on the project plan (duration of zero days)
  • Each task must include the person responsible for completing the task (resource names)
  • Use the "Copy Picture" function to include the schedule in the presentations. Do not take a screenshot
  • Gantt chart must be displayed alongside the tasks list (fit onto one slide)
  • Gantt chart must show a progress line
  • Clearly state during the presentations whether the project is on-time, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule

For help planning the project, review the manual page Planning Project Scheduling & Costs.

Drawings

All drawings and sketches should be made using the Assembly tool in Fusion 360. Fusion 360 can be downloaded for free from the Autodesk website using an NYU email or accessed from any computer in the Modelshop during Open Lab hours.

Using Fusion 360, create four drawings of the robot: front, top, most detailed side, and a drawing of the gear train(s). Sensors, motors, and gears must be included in each drawing. Smaller pieces such as nuts, bolts, and axles may be omitted from the drawings.

Each revision of the design must be documented and all changes must be presented during Milestone presentations.

Figure 2: Example Drawing of VEX MRR

Model

Build a scale model (1:1) of the design. The following materials will be provided:

  1. VEX robotics pieces
  2. Basic electronics prototyping kit
  3. Sensors
  4. Motors

The finished MRR must not exceed a footprint of 15" × 15". There is no height limitation. Any additional components that the MRR is equipped with must also fit within the footprint. Additional materials can be supplied by a TA.

Cost Estimate

Once a robot design is complete, a cost estimate must be generated that specifies the cost of all the materials and labor required for the construction of the design. Tabulate this cost information clearly in an Excel spreadsheet, using the materials cost list provided. Help in calculating the cost is available by reviewing how to plan the schedule and calculate costs for a project. The costs for the parts can be found on the Price list for VEX parts for robot projects.

Note: Only the materials contained in the price list for VEX parts for robot projects may be used. To use other parts, get permission from a faculty member, and also to determine the cost of the additional parts used that are not in this price list.

The cost estimate should include the following:

  • Labor cost breakdown with hours and rates ($50.00 per person per hour)
  • Consolidate low-cost pieces: axles, beams, bricks, bushings, connectors, gears, plates
  • Consolidate low-cost electrical components: microcontrollers, breadboard, wires, motor shield
  • Itemize high-cost pieces: sensors, motors, and battery
  • Total cost must be shown in the bottom right corner of the table

CATME

When working on engineering team projects, peer evaluations and self-evaluations are critical for assessing how effective individual contributions are to the project. In this course, the recitation professor will use evaluations at each Milestone using a software called the Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness (CATME). More information can be found on the Teamwork Expectations page.

Engineering Notebook

All work done on the project and future plans and goals must be documented in an Engineering Notebook. To complete a Benchmark assessment, the Engineering Notebook must be presented to the Open Lab TA completing the assessment. For Milestone 1, Milestone 2, Milestone 3, and Early or Final Submission, the Engineering Notebook must be approved by the recitation professor and be prepared to make it available to an Open Lab TA in a Word Document (.docx) format. A guide to writing the notebook and a basic overview of the expectations and frequency at which the Engineering Notebook must be updated can be found on the Keeping an Engineering Notebook page.

Extra Credit

The tasks listed below show the opportunities to receive extra credit at commissioning:

  • Returning to the Start tile at the end of the entire run. If completing multiple extra credit tasks, returning to the Start tile should be the final task completed.
  • Traversing the secondary ramp (Ramp 1). The robot must be able to descend the primary ramp similar to how it ascended the ramp for commissioning. For safety reasons, the robot cannot jump off the primary ramp directly to Ramp 1.
  • Implementing an additional sensor

Additional extra credit opportunities are as follows:

  • Completing Early Submission
  • Completing MRR's 3D printing task of printing a robot part that will help your robot complete the course as described in the 3D Printing and Logo Guide

Refer to the EG1004 Grading Policy for exact point values. Creativity and innovation are always rewarded. Original designs will receive extra credit.

Milestones, Benchmarks, and Deliverables

As work is done on the project, three Milestone presentations will report on the project's progress. All of the items assigned in each phase of the project are called Benchmark deliverables. These deliverables often consist of a combination of written submissions, presentations, and demonstrations. Benchmark assessments evaluate the progress of the project.

Preliminary Design Investigation

The Preliminary Design Investigation (PDI) is extremely important, as it lays the groundwork for the project. It outlines the project idea, inspiration, and goals.

The PDI must include:

  • Cover Page
  • Project Overview
  • Goals & Objectives
  • Design & Approach
  • Cost Estimate
  • Project Schedule
  • Relevant Pictures

An example PDI template can be found here. The PDI is due by Benchmark A. Do not forget to include the items listed above. Use this link to access the VEX PDI Rubric.

Milestone 1

See How To Give a Milestone Presentation for the format of a Milestone presentation.

Milestone 1 is a presentation of the PDI. It is important that it outlines the project goals and show that the project is realizable.

The Milestone 1 presentation must include:

  • Company profile
    • Company name
    • Product name
    • Company officer title(s)
    • Mission statement
  • Project objective
    • What is the project about?
    • What tasks is the company aiming to accomplish? (Benchmark A requirements)
    • Overall design approach to complete objective
  • Background information
    • Why is the project happening?
    • What does the audience need to know?
  • Technical design description
    • Preliminary conceptual drawing of robot design
      • Rendered and digital sketches are acceptable, CAD not required
    • What components will be used and why?
  • Cost estimate
    • Major components of design listed
    • Miscellaneous category listed
    • Projected labor listed
  • Microsoft Project schedule
    • Click here to access the guide on how to transfer a file
  • Teamwork agreement summary
  • Summary
    • Overall assessment on current state of project
    • Is the project on schedule? Is it on budget?
    • Next steps and future tasks


Look Ahead: What tasks are planned between now and Milestone 2?

Benchmark Assessment A

Benchmarks evaluate the progress of the project. Benchmark A is due at the end of Model Shop Session II. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1004 Grading Policy for more information.

To pass Benchmark A, the design must complete all of the following:

  • Robot reaches the rock sample (the robot does not have to pick it up)
  • PDI
  • Submit an .STL and a .3mf (Bambu Studio Project file) of the company logo or extra credit print through the 3D Printing Submission portal on the EG website
  • Updated Engineering Notebook

Milestone 2

See How To Give a Milestone Presentation for the format of a Milestone presentation.

Milestone 2 will be a project progress update. It must explain all changes and developments made to date, particularly in regards to Benchmark A. Include whether or not Benchmark A requirements are completed, and if not, explain why. Also, highlight any changes you plan on making to your design or project, in general.

The Milestone 2 presentation must include:

  • Company profile
    • Company name
    • Product name
    • Company officer title(s)
    • Mission statement
  • Project objective
    • What is the project about?
    • What tasks is the company aiming to accomplish? (Benchmark A/Benchmark B requirements)
    • Overall design approach to complete objective
  • Background information
    • Why is the project happening?
    • What does the audience need to know?
  • Technical design description
    • Explanation of design changes, if any
    • CAD drawings: top, front, most detailed side, isometric, and gear train view
    • Circuit and schematic diagram(s)
    • Relevant pictures
    • Flowchart of code
  • Cost estimate (previous and current costs)
    • Major components of design listed
    • Miscellaneous category listed
    • Projected labor listed
    • What changes were made, if any?
  • Microsoft Project schedule (previous and current)
    • What changes were made, if any?
    • Click here to access the guide on how to transfer a file
  • Summary
    • Overall assessment on current state of project
    • Is the project on schedule? Is it on budget?
    • Next steps and future tasks

Benchmark Assessment B

Benchmark Assessment B is due at the end of Model Shop Session III. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1004 Grading Policy for more information.

To pass, complete all of the following tasks:

  • Rock sample is carried by the robot
  • Robot returns to the Start tile
  • Implement and use a sensor to aid the robot's navigation
  • Have an .STL and a .3mf (Bambu Studio Project file) of the company logo approved by a ProtoLab TA through the 3D Printing Submission portal on the EG website. Students must physically go to the ProtoLab before Modelshop Session 3 to get the logo approved. Logos cannot be approved during Modelshop sessions.
  • Updated Engineering Notebook

Milestone 3

See How To Give a Milestone Presentation for the format of a Milestone presentation.

Milestone 3 will be the last project progress update. It must explain all changes and developments made to date, particularly in regards to Benchmark B. Include whether or not Benchmark B requirements are completed, and if not, explain why. Also, highlight any changes you plan on making to your design or project, in general.

The Milestone 3 presentation must include:

  • Company profile
    • Company name
    • Product name
    • Company officer title(s)
    • Mission statement
  • Project objective
    • What is the project about?
    • What tasks is the company aiming to accomplish? (Benchmark A/Benchmark B requirements)
    • Overall design approach to complete objective
  • Background information
    • Why is the project happening?
    • What does the audience need to know?
  • Technical design description
    • Explanation of design changes, if any
    • CAD drawings: top, front, most detailed side, isometric, and gear train view
    • Circuit and schematic diagram(s)
    • Relevant pictures
    • Flowchart of code
  • Cost estimate (previous and current costs)
    • Major components of design listed
    • Miscellaneous category listed
    • Projected labor listed
    • What changes were made, if any?
  • Microsoft Project schedule (previous and current)
    • What changes were made, if any?
    • Click here to access the guide on how to transfer a file
  • Summary
    • Overall assessment on current state of project
    • Is the project on schedule? Is it on budget?
    • Next steps and future tasks

Commissioning

Projects must be commissioned before Submission. Refer to the syllabus for Submission deadlines. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1004 Grading Policy for more information.

To pass, the design must complete all of the following:

  • Complete tasks for Benchmarks A and B
  • Robot reaches the highest point of the mountain
    • The robot must come to a complete stop at the peak
  • Robot meets all specifications
  • Have an .STL file of the company logo or extra credit print printed through the 3D Printing Submission portal on the EG website
  • All 3D prints must be approved by a ProtoLab TA
  • Updated Engineering Notebook

The robot must complete the required tasks in a single run to obtain full credit for commissioning.

Final Design Report

The Final Design Report (FDR) provides a comprehensive overview of the project process and developments from initial brainstorm to finished prototype. All project expectations and outcomes must be clearly detailed in the document. This report will also provide documentation experience useful for completing a Senior Design final report and other projects.

The FDR must include the following documentation:

  • CAD drawings
  • Wiring diagrams
  • Project schedule
  • Cost estimate

The FDR uses different section headers and content than those in the lab reports, but all FDRs must follow the EG1004 Writing Style Guide. Use this FDR template with the following outline:

  • Introduction
    • Purpose of Project
    • Background
  • Requirements
    • Physical Components
    • Software Components
  • Procedures
    • Physical Construction
    • Software Setup
    • Software Troubleshooting
  • Milestone and Final Product Requirements
    • Benchmark A Requirements
    • Benchmark B Requirements
    • Final Submission Requirements
    • Human Resources and Training (e.g. TA expertise utilized, etc.)
  • Results
    • Benchmark A Results
    • Benchmark B Results
    • Difficulties Experienced
  • Conclusion
    • Results of Project
    • Future Improvements

The FDR is due at the time of submission.


Final Presentation

The Final Presentation will be a technical briefing, similar to the Milestones, but also serves as a sales presentation explaining why the company should be selected instead of the competition.

Your Final Presentation must include:

  • Company profile
    • Company name
    • Employee profile, role(s), and qualifications
    • Mission statement
  • Problem statement
    • Why is the project happening?
    • What does the audience need to know?
  • Project objective
    • What is the purpose of the project?
    • Who does your project help?
    • What problem does the project solve?
  • Project description
    • Explanation of design changes, if any
    • CAD drawings: top, front, most detailed side, isometric, and gear train view
    • Relevant pictures
    • Flowchart of code
  • Market and product viability
    • Does the company have competitors?
    • What makes the project unique?
    • How does the design compare to competitors - cost, quality, features?
    • Is the project versatile?
    • What is the price of the project?
  • Conclusion
    • Reiterating project purpose
    • Highlight project features
    • Future goals of the company
    • Why should the company be awarded this contract?
  • Video pitch
    • Price of project
    • Demonstration of robot run
    • Embedded into Final Presentation

Submission

All SLDPs must be submitted online. Please visit this page for the link to the Project Submission form and each project’s individualized login information. To submit, login to the EG1004 website using this special login information. Submitting with an NYU account or any other account will generate an error. Components may be resubmitted at any time before the deadline. Please note that submission times are based on the most recent submission.

Please note the deliverables for this project are as follows. If any of the following items are omitted, there will be a penalty. Be sure to click "Submit" at the bottom of the form and allow sufficient time for uploading. The following list includes deliverable items that are required:

  • Submission deliverables:
    • Final presentation
    • Final Arduino program
    • Final circuit diagrams
    • Initial sketch
    • All the drawings of the design (initial through final)
    • Video
    • Final Microsoft Project schedule
    • Final cost estimate
    • Resume(s) (no fictitious resumes will be accepted)
    • Final notebook/project journal
    • Final Design Report

Please note that submission times are based on the most recent submission.

Early Submission

If the project is submitted one academic week early (before the end of the lab period the week before the Final Submission deadline), the project is eligible for a bonus that will be added to the final SLDP grade. All deliverables must be submitted one academic week before the submission deadline (see syllabus for the exact date). The deliverables received early are the ones that will be used in the Final Presentation. No changes to the submitted deliverables will be accepted.

Late Submission

Late submission is not allowed. If a project does not Commission or receive Partial Commission by the deadline set forth in the syllabus, the project will not be allowed to submit and will receive a 0 for the project grade. To receive Partial Commissioning, two TAs must evaluate the project and determine its degree of completion according to the Commissioning requirements and the project will be given a grade accordingly. Please refer to the EG1004 Grading Policy for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is stepping on the course allowed as it is difficult to retrieve a robot from the middle of the course due to its size?

A: No. If needed, ask a TA for assistance.

Q: Can the course be bumped if the robot gets stuck?

A: No. It is not possible to bump Mars, so bumping the course is not an option.

Q: Can rubber bands be used on the wheels for more traction?

A: Yes. This is highly encouraged, especially when dealing with slopes.

Q: All the VEX parts are really big. Is there a size constraint?

A: There is a size limitation of a 15 in × 15 in footprint. Exceeding this constraint is okay, but it may create difficulties in navigating the robot through the course.

Q: Can more than 2 motors be used?

A: No. Robot designs are limited to two motors.

Q: Can the robot jump from one hill to another?

A: No. This will cause damage to both the robot and course and is also unsafe. If the robot does this, the trial will be invalidated and the project may receive point penalties to the final project grade.

Q: What is the best way to start building the robot?

A: For help with building, refer to the VEX How-To Manual.