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Modular Research Rover and Gesture Control System for EVA Steve McGuire, Joel Richter, Kevin Sloan The Pennsylvania State University

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Presentation on theme: "Modular Research Rover and Gesture Control System for EVA Steve McGuire, Joel Richter, Kevin Sloan The Pennsylvania State University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Modular Research Rover and Gesture Control System for EVA Steve McGuire, Joel Richter, Kevin Sloan The Pennsylvania State University

2 Introduction The year is NASA formally proposes a manned Mars mission to launch within the next decade. Will this signal the turning point in space exploration from robotic exploration to manned exploration? Or does this mark the transition into a cooperative exploratory effort?

3 A model for robotic exploration on Mars

4 Mission Control for the Pathfinder Mission

5 This Isn’t Your Father’s Planetary Exploration... Hand gesture based control system - virtual reality gloves that can be integrated into an astronaut’s space suit will be used to control rovers and other robotic equipment Rover will be modular, and thus able to adapt to almost any situation

6 Approach/Problem Selection When selecting a project, we looked for one that would support: –Long term work –Development of a product that could be tested, refined and demonstrated Desire to work in a new area, but on something feasible for a team of undergraduate students We were able to draw upon the experiences of a team member who spent a summer working at NASA Ames

7 Problem Definition Primary problem: Issue of field control of a rover on Mars –Preprogrammed missions are not flexible enough to support in-field modifications –Astronauts on EVA cannot directly interface with rover computers “Manual dexterity is also compromised by the bulky gloves, and so creative ways of working with equipment and gathering samples must be developed.” -EVA I Trip Report MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station); February 8, 2002 –Requiring a third party, namely a support crew at a base station, to assist in communications will take time away from other important tasks.

8 Reasons to Use a Glove Keyboards, Mice and trackballs require interaction outside of the pressure suit Only minimal movement and flexibility required to operate the glove Thin, lightweight structure suitable for integration within pressure glove design Always available, yet unobtrusive

9 Problem Definition Secondary problem: Planned obsolescence –A typical rover is optimized for a specific mission, or mission task –After that particular mission has been completed, the rover is useless –Similar to planned reuse of orbital communications hardware, we can reuse rover hardware

10 Why are we doing this? Actual rover needed for realistic tests of gesture-based control system Simulations only have so much fidelity Testbed for modularity concept

11 A Language for Control Requires expression for general tasks, yet simplicity for ease of learning Representation uses Moore model for operating points, Mealy for direct human interaction points Three states in basic design: Waiting, High Level Command, Direct Control

12 Current Implementation Glove hardware: fiber optic based Not focusing on autonomy; can collapse the high level command state Requires special “attention” and “done” commands to prevent inadvertent activation or programming Two hands only as orthogonal device controllers

13 Demos of Current Work Movie: Pioneer Rover in Action Demo: Something We Could Bring on a Plane

14 Limitations of Control System Glove measures only average finger flexion Limited gesture recognition ability –Discrete vs. Continuous Gestures –Increased programming complexity

15 Preliminary Rover Work As we started this project, we realized there was a lot we needed to learn in order to take design ideas and actually flesh them out Physical construction of the rover was a key issue because every detail had to be addressed

16 Rover Prototype Goals Teach the skills needed to design and build a high quality rover Allow for quick construction Stay within a fairly small budget

17 Rover Prototype Results Gained experience machining metal Learned the difficultly of joining pieces well Saw strengths and weaknesses of structural design so next design could be planned accordingly Similarity in size to future rover made it inconvenient to use as a demonstration tool of the glove control system

18 Future Work: Gesture Control Use two handed gestures, with gloves wired to a backpack laptop Expand state representation to be capable of controlling more peripherals: a universal language Expand into combined gestures (with both hands) Expand into semi-autonomous operations

19 The Next Rover: Red Testbed for glove control system Provide platform for robotics projects such as stereo vision and autonomous navigation Allow field testing of human factors to improve human-rover team interaction Demonstrate modularity

20 Red: an Overview

21 Rover Design Issues - Size A large rover is suited for independent missions –High speed, long range –Complicated and expensive, focus shifts away from space science to applied engineering A small rover is suited for assisting humans in field work –Able to explore small places, unobtrusive when not in use –Difficult to build because it requires very precise engineering, expensive

22 Size Chosen Medium size was chosen –Balance of both size advantages –Easiest size to construct, allowing focus to be on what the rover can do and not merely building the rover –Dimensions are: 24” x 16” x 14”

23 Design Issues - Suspension Necessary to protect electronics from hard jolts and continuous vibrations Design fixes motors and axles on separate plate attached by shock absorbers to the payload section

24 Design Issues – Wheels vs. Treads Wheels –Steering mechanism difficult to design and construct –More efficient than treads but worse off-road handling characteristics Treads –Difficult to attach to wheels and keep taut –Worse efficiency than but better performance on rough terrain Decision: Treads

25 Modularity All rovers have many systems in common Differences emerge based on the purpose of the rover, such as the science package to be carried

26 Efficiency and Redundancy Only a small fraction of a rover’s mass is devoted to the payload Modules would reduce the number of rovers required without compromising the capabilities of the mission Redundancy is increased because failure of a base doesn’t disable the science capabilities of that rover

27 On-Board Computing: Our Approach Laptop will be a communications hub between user(s) and base Serial port expansion will allow laptop to interface with multiple microcontrollers Will also serve as main computing resource for computationally expensive processes, such as stereo vision Laptop screen will allow for advanced control interactions, as well more self-sustained field work

28 Microcontrollers Microcontrollers will receive direct commands from the laptop, and will interface with the electronics on-board For testing/prototyping stages, the Basic Stamp 2 will be used because of simplistic programming, which is ideal for testing other systems Final version of Red will utilize the Motorola 64HC11E9 microcontroller. It is much more difficult to use, but provides vast flexibility when compared to the Stamp

29 Stereo Vision Two Firewire cameras will be mounted on the front of the rover Early implementations will include rudimentary tracking algorithms, such as locating the user. More advanced tasks will deal with hazard detection and avoidance for autonomous navigation

30 Working Project Timeline Spring 2002: Basic development of applicable technologies, rover prototype, single glove basic motion control Fall 2002: Finalize rover design, continue development of control system

31 Working Project Timeline Spring 2003: Rover base fabrication, further control system implementations (i.e. two- hand control, more advanced control states), basic stereo vision tasks Summer 2003: Testing and verification of design Fall 2003-Spring 2004: Refinement and completion of base, module development, advanced user interface, autonomous navigation capabilities, further field testing

32 To Infinity, and Beyond… While this project is currently outlined for the next 18 months, our work will open the door for countless opportunities. With a working rover and gesture control system in place, future groups will be able to build off of an open ended base system.

33 Questions? Thank you. The Penn State Mars Society


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