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A Case Study: Developing a ROS Robot with On-Board Computing for a University Robotics Department

ROS Robot: Bringing Robotic Sensors Together with ROS and On-Board Computing

Just like humans, mobile robots need to be able to sense their environment. Through the Robot Operating System, or ROS, the robot builds awareness of its surroundings using sensors, such as stereo vision, inertial measurement, and 3D laser scans. The robot combines this information to know where it is, where it’s going, and what’s in the way, ultimately allowing it to sense and navigate around and past objects. 

A robot is only as good as the data coming in, so for those needing highly sensitive localization, ROS needs the best sensors.

Fortunately, when it comes to mobile robots, Stanley Innovation’s new ROS-Integrated Segway RMP offers state-of-the-art sensing capabilities on a robust platform that set it apart from all the other mobile robots out there.

Originally built at the request of a world-renowned research university, Stanley Innovation designed the ROS-Integrated Segway RMP to meet specific needs common in research labs today. The client wanted a ROS compatible RMP platform integrated with sensors to perform navigation tasks. The purpose of the platform was to provide a foundation for researchers eager to tackle next generation navigation algorithm research.

Stanley Innovation set out to fulfill this request, seeking to provide the highest functionality and navigation accuracy with leading edge sensors, in a platform that the researchers could use for future projects. And all of this had to be delivered at a reasonable cost in a short timeframe.

Stanley Innovation met these goals by developing a robot featuring a planar laser scanner, 3D stereo vision and laser scanner system, two machine vision cameras and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) with 3 axis gyro/accel/mag and GPS. The robot makes use of a range of highly regarded sensors, including Carnegie’s 3D MultiSense SL and SICK’s LMS100 LiDAR laser measurement system.

The Segway RMP 210 includes two onboard Nav/Vision computers, including an Intense PC Pro barebones (i7) for vision processing to handle navigation.

Special features on this ROS robot include:

  • The MultiSense SL, a tri-modal (laser, 3D stereo, and video), high-resolution, high-data-rate, and high-accuracy 3D range sensor.  The sensor is suitable for use in a wide variety of robotics, automation, and sensing applications. It’s packaged in rugged, compact housing, along with a low-power FPGA processor.
  • The SICK LMS 100, a laser measurement system suited to both indoor and outdoor applications, with 270 degree scanning angles, high detection capability, integrated distance measurement, dynamically switching monitored fields and unsurpassed stable object detection.
  • A 3DM Micro Strain Inertial Sensor, designed to provide 3-axis static and quasi-dynamic orientation measurements. It incorporates 3 accelerometers and 3 magnetometers together with an on-board microprocessor, embedded software algorithm, non-volatile memory for configuration, and serial communication interface.
  • Point Grey Research Flea3 USB3 camera, actually a second set of cameras to eliminate blind spots. A 6mm lens gives a field of vision of approximately 80×60. Combined with the planar laser, these cameras provide 360 degree coverage.

Stanley engineers selected the specific sensor package to satisfy the University researchers’ needs, but the system is fully customizable. All of this on-board processing capability completely eliminates the need for a powerful external computer. In other words, the ROS-Integrated Segway RMP is a complete out of the box solution for researchers looking to leverage ROS development for their project.

Now are you ready? Contact us today.

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