VEX Mars Rover Robot (MRR)

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RFP*: Mars Rover Robot (MRR)

* RFP is an acronym for Request For Proposal. Internationally, RFPs are called ITTs, an acronym for Invitation To Tender. Governmental agencies use RFPs to solicit new business.

This project reflects real life scenarios; the robot must be able to handle minor imperfections in the course.

Note: You should only use the materials contained in the price list for VEX parts for robot projects. If you want to use other parts, get permission from your faculty member to do so, and also to determine the cost of the parts you want to use that are not in this price list.

Introduction and Overview

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently received increasing 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-kilometer 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. In order to calculate the possibility of active volcanic activity on the Red Planet, NASA has issued an RFP (request for proposal) for a rover 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 as well as 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 theorize 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 with a claw and bring it back to the start point for analysis. The second part of the mission involves climbing to the peak of the mountain 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 your primary design tool. Your team must build a model of your design using the materials provided. An Arduino program that will direct the robot's movements must be created. A cost estimate of the robot's components must be provided. All revisions to the original design must be recorded and explained. This includes technical design drawings as well as cost estimates. All revisions to the Arduino program must be recorded and explained.

The MRR must be able to move autonomously over the course, pick up the rock sample with a claw, and return to the start point, all while using a sensor. The sensor can be a gyro sensor, ultrasonic sensor, or touch sensor. The robot must traverse to the highest peak of the course. For extra credit, the robot can traverse the secondary ramp and return to the start tile. In completing the extra credit, the robot must descend the primary ramp similar to how it ascended it for Commissioning. The robot cannot jump off the primary ramp directly to the secondary ramp. The robot must fit within a 15 in × 15 in footprint. These specifications must be met for final Commissioning.

The robot's Arduino program may not be altered or switched during any part of the mission. Likewise, the robot must be fully autonomous, and therefore cannot be touched by any person during testing. Please refer to the course syllabus for all due dates.

Please note that any attempt to physically step on the course or have the robot drive off a cliff will result in a point penalty in your final project grade due to safety precautions.

Course Layout

Ramp 1 is the secondary ramp that can be traversed for extra credit. Ramps 2 and 3 comprise the primary ramp that must be traversed for Commissioning.

Figure 1: Labeled View of MRR Navigation Field

Microsoft Project

You must create a schedule to manage your time in Microsoft Project. You can learn Microsoft Project by doing the MS Project Skill Builder. This schedule must include all tasks related to the project from the start of the project to Submission. The Microsoft Project schedule should include the following:

  • Minimum of 20 tasks
  • 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 project plan in the presentations. Do not take a screenshot
  • Gantt chart must be displayed alongside the tasks list (fit onto one slide)
  • Gantt chart must clearly show a progress line
  • Clearly state during the presentation whether the project is on-time, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule

For help in planning the project, review the manual page how to plan the schedule and calculate costs for a project.

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, axles, blah blah may be omitted from the drawings. If the robot does not use any gears, make sure to explicitly state that in your presentations.

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

You must build a scale model (1:1) of your design. The following materials will be provided:

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

The finished MRR must not exceed a footprint of 15 in × 15 in. 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 your 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: You should only use the materials contained in the price list for VEX parts for robot projects. If you want to use other parts, get permission from your faculty member to do so, and also to determine the cost of the parts you want to use that are not in this price list.

The cost estimate should include the following:

  • Labor cost breakdown with hours and rates
  • Consolidate low-cost pieces: axles, beams, bricks, bushings, connectors, gears, plates
  • Consolidate low-cost electrical components: microcontrollers, breadboard, wires, motor shield, etc.
  • Itemize high-cost pieces: sensors, motors, and battery
  • Total cost must be shown in the bottom right corner

Extra Credit

For extra credit, your robot may climb the secondary platform and/or return to the starting position. The robot must be able to descend the primary ramp similar to how it ascended the ramp. You can also receive extra credit for completing Benchmark A, Benchmark B, or Submission early, or completing your respective SLDP's 3D printing extra credit task as described in the Prototyping Guide. Refer to the EG1003 Grading Policy for exact point values. Creativity and innovation are always rewarded. Original designs will receive extra credit.

Milestones and Benchmarks

As you work on your project, you will be required to present periodic reports on your progress. We call these Milestones. All the items assigned in each Milestone are called deliverables. These deliverables often consist of a combination of written submissions, presentations, and demonstrations.

Milestone 1

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

Milestone 1 Deliverables:

  • Presentation:
    • Project description
    • Design approach
    • Mission statement
    • Preliminary CAD drawing of robot
    • Cost estimate
    • Microsoft Project schedule
    • Progress update: current state of the project

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

Benchmark Assessment A

Benchmark assessments evaluate the progress of your project. Benchmark Assessment A is due at the end of Modelshop Session I. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1003 Grading Policy for more information.

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

  • Robot reaches the rock sample (you do not have to pick it up)
  • Submission of mandatory 3D print: This includes the submission of either a logo design or extra credit print in the 3D Printing Submission portal on the EG1003 website

Milestone 2

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

Milestone 2 Deliverables:

  • Presentation:
    • Project description
    • Design approach
    • Design changes since Milestone 1
    • Mission statement
    • CAD drawings: top, front, most detailed side, isometric, gear train
    • Arduino program utilizing flow charts
    • Circuit diagrams
    • Cost estimate (previous and current). What changes were made?
    • Microsoft Project schedule (previous and current). What changes were made?
    • Progress update: current state of the project (time, budget, etc.)

Look Ahead: What tasks are planned between now and Milestone 3?

Benchmark Assessment B

Benchmark Assessment B is due at the end of Modelshop Session II. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1003 Grading Policy for more information.

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

  • Robot picks up rock sample with a claw
  • Robot drops off rock sample at the start tile
  • Approval of mandatory 3D print: This includes receiving approval of either a logo design or extra credit print by a Protolab TA in the EG1003 Protolab, and showing your Proof of Approval form to a TA

Milestone 3

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

Milestone 3 Deliverables:

  • Presentation:
    • Project description
    • Design approach
    • Design changes since Milestone 2
    • Mission statement
    • CAD drawings: top, front, most detailed side, isometric, gear train
    • Arduino program
    • Cost estimate (previous and current). What changes were made?
    • Microsoft Project schedule (previous and current). What changes were made?
    • Progress update: current state of the project (time, budget, etc.)

Look Ahead: What tasks are planned between now and the completion of the project?

Commissioning

Refer to the syllabus for the Commissioning deadline. There are penalties for not completing this on time. Refer to the EG1003 Grading Policy for more information.

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

  • Robot reaches highest point of the mountain
    • The robot must come to a complete stop at the peak
  • Printed mandatory 3D print

Final Presentation

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

  • Problem statement
  • Solution overview
  • Company description and qualifications
  • Drawings
  • Arduino program
  • Circuit diagrams
  • Cost estimate
  • Microsoft Project schedule
  • Video demonstration
  • Why should your company be awarded this contract?

Submission

All SLDPs must submit online. Please visit https://eg.poly.edu/finalSLDP.php for the link to the Project Submission form and each SLDP group's individualized login information. To submit, you must login to the EG1003 website using this special login information. Submitting with your NYU account or any other account will generate an error. You may resubmit 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, you will be penalized. Be sure to click submit at the bottom of the form. The following list includes deliverable items that are expected from your group:

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

Early Submission

If you submit your project one academic week early, you are eligible for a bonus that will be added to your final semester-long project grade. You must submit all deliverables one academic week before the submission deadline (see syllabus for exact date). The deliverables received early are the ones you will use in your presentation. No adjustments to the submitted deliverables will be accepted.

Late Submission

Late Submission is not allowed. If you do not Commission or Partial Commission by the deadline set forth in the syllabus, you will not be allowed to submit and will receive a zero for the project grade. In order to receive Partial Commissioning, two TAs must analyze the project and determine its level of completeness in terms of Commissioning requirements. Please refer to the EG1003 Grading Policy for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can we step on the course as it is difficult to retrieve a robot from the middle of the course due to its size?

A: No. If needed, you can ask a TA to assist you.

Q: Can we bump the course if the robot gets stuck?

A: No. You can't bump Mars, so bumping the course is not an option.

Q: Can we use rubber bands 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 soft size limitation of a 15 in × 15 in footprint. If you slightly exceed this constraint, it is okay, but you may encounter difficulties in navigating the robot through the course.

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

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

Q: Are we required to use the VEX library?

A: No; however, students who do not use the library are not guaranteed support from EG1003 TAs.

Q: Can we laser cut a robot part or course modification?

A: Yes!