A Framework for the Long-Term Operation of a Mobile Robot via the Internet

Shervin Emami (2009). A Framework for the Long-Term Operation of a Mobile Robot via the Internet MPhil Thesis, School of Information Technol and Elec Engineering, The University of Queensland.

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Author Shervin Emami
Thesis Title A Framework for the Long-Term Operation of a Mobile Robot via the Internet
School, Centre or Institute School of Information Technol and Elec Engineering
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-07
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Prof Gordon F. Wyeth
Prof Janet Wiles
Total pages 130
Total colour pages 11
Total black and white pages 119
Subjects 10 Technology
Abstract/Summary This report describes a docking system to allow autonomous battery charging of a mobile robot, and a Web interface that allows long-term unaided use of a sophisticated mobile robot by untrained Web users around the world. The docking system and Web interface are applied to the biologically inspired RatSLAM system as a foundation for testing both its long-term stability and its practicality for real-world applications. While there are existing battery charging and Web interface systems for mobile robots, the developed solution combines the two, resulting in a self-sufficient robot that can recharge its own batteries and stay accessible from the Web. Existing mobile robots on the Internet require manual charging by a human operator, leading to significant periods when the robot is offline. Furthermore, since the robot may be operational for extended periods without powering down, it may perform learning operations that require significantly longer operation than a single battery-recharge cycle would allow. The implemented Web interface makes use of the RatSLAM navigation system. RatSLAM provides the onboard intelligence for the robot to navigate to the user-supplied goal locations (such as “go to location X”), despite long paths or obstacles in the environment. The majority of the existing robot interfaces on the Internet provide direct control of the robot (such as “drive forward”) and therefore the users suffer greatly from the inherent delays of the Internet due to the time lag between performing an action and seeing the feedback. Instead, the robot in this study uses an onboard intelligent navigation system to generate all low-level commands. Due to the minimal input required to give high-level commands to the robot, the system is robust to the long and highly unpredictable delays of Internet communication. Traditional methods of autonomous battery charging for mobile robots have had limited reliability, often due to the mechanical docking system requiring a highly precise connection. Therefore, the mechanical design of the implemented battery charging system improves reliability by allowing for a significantly larger navigation error. In addition, the robot uses a standard vision sensor for both the long-range and short-range stages of navigation to the battery charger, compared to the many systems that require an omnidirectional camera and a high-resolution Laser range finder for this process. The result of this study is a public web interface at "http://ratslam.itee.uq.edu.au/robot.html" (currently offline), where any Web user in the world can watch and control the live mobile robot that is using RatSLAM for navigation, as it drives in its laboratory environment without human assistance.
Keyword mobile robotics
web robots
supervisory control
autonomous recharging
Additional Notes colour pages: 26, 45, 67, 68, 69, 73, 75, 76, 88, 96, 107.

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Created: Tue, 01 Jun 2010, 14:01:09 EST by Mr Shervin Emami on behalf of Library - Information Access Service