Educational and Research Robots
The e-puck miniature mobile robot was originally developed for educational purposes and is now used in "microinformatique" course at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne (EPFL). This robot is based on a dsPIC processor, a 16 bit microcontroller having a DSP core. It is equipped with a large number of sensors. Basic code for access to the hardware is available. The goal of the development project is to write additional layers of code to help use the mobile robot for educational and research purposes.
This project started at the Autonomous Systems Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in 2004 by the designer of the successful Khepera robot. The main goal of this project was to develop an advanced miniature mobile robot for educational and research purposes at the university level. To achieve this goal, they set out to design a robot with the following features:
Good structure - The robot has a clean mechanical structure and simple to understand. The electronics, processor structure and software are good examples of a clean modern system. The plastic body is transparent allowing all elements of hte robot to be visible from the outside.
Flexibility - The robot covers a large spectrum of educational and research activities and therefore has a large potential in its sensors, processing power and extensions. Potential educational fields are mobile robotics, real-time programming, embedded systems, signal processing, image or sound feature extraction, human-machine interaction and collective systems.
User friendly - The robot is small (about 7cm in diameter) and easy to use on a table next to a computer. It has minimal wiring, battery operation and optimal working comfort. The e-puck is robust for student use and is simple and inexpensive to repair.
Affordable - The e-puck is affordable to allow for large quantities for classroom use.
To help the creation of a community inside and outside EPFL, the project is based on an open hardware concept, where all documents are distributed and submitted to a licensee allowing everyone to use and develop hardware and software for it.
Software for the e-puck and tools are available on-line.
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