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Wow, I haven't updated since July!
Well, work continues at USC. The motion capture suit project is entering testing and verification. Currently, we are testing three sensors (1 for elbow tracking, 1 for shoulder tracking, and 1 for reference.) A few months were burned designing an algorithm that fused the sensor information using floating point quaternions that could update at 100 Hz on a 8 bit, 16Mhz Atmel Mega32 processor with 32k of flash! I tried 2 algorithms from literature, Linear Gauss-Newton Iteration and a Quaternion-based Extended Kalman Filter. Both failed, the first because of a terribly slow 4x4 matrix inversion and the second because of size limitations. I scraped them and developed my own linear filter that works pretty well, although we are still tuning the parameters. Since this project is funded by DARPA, all of the info will be public domain, which can be VERY GOOD NEWS for anyone looking for a very small IMU with 3 axis gyro, 3 axis accelerometer, and 3 axis magnetometer for about 260 dollars in parts! If you are intersted let me know, I can always let you see what I got.
The humanoid is coming along. I have one arm and the body rapid prototyped and mostly constructed. I am most likely going to modify the servos so that I can just talk to them over a serial line using Atmel's cool addressing function. This way, I can get positional information back from the servo, and also program cool little functions like going slack when the joint hits something. I should have pictures up soon, I am waiting on the rapid prototyping company to send a piece that they had accidently left off of the last order, then I will have both arms and the body constructed. I feel this will give a better representation of the project, so I am holding out to take the pictures. It is cool though! Work continues on the head design to make it interactive and appealing, yet not scary to children or us for that matter. It is bigger than everyone expected, which wasn't very big since we are using digital servos. The arms are heavy enough to have to worry about inertia, etc. I think the size helps to distinguish this robot from the others that look like toys. I do want to invest a little bit of time over the summer developing a smaller version that may be purchased for at or under $3000 using rapid prototyping, or under $1000 for bulk plastic orders. I'll have to see if there is any interest for this though. Plus, you never know what is going to happen since I'll be graduating in June. There may be some good news, but I can't really talk about it now :-)
I am developing a new humanoid robot torso. The prototype is being funded. The size of the robot will be about 2 feet tall (from base to top of head). I have done quite a bit of work in Pro/E to get the basic design up. It will go through several changes over several cycles I am sure. The basic structure can be seen here. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
Well, I am here at the University of Southern California Robotic Interaction Lab. I am building an "inexpensive" motion capture suite using inertial measurement units. Each unit is coming in at about 200 dollars, but has 6 DOF. I have designed a radio link between the suit and a host computer that will basically stream the data in. All the sensor parts are on order and the boards are being made. Each IMU is only 1.75x1.75x1" and is interfaced through a minidin connector, which also functions as the programming port. I think the design is solid and we expect that you can capture all movements of the arm, minus the fingers, using just 3 IMUs. So, that makes 6 for the arms, 6 for the legs, 1 for the head, and 1 for the upper torso = 14 in total. That is about $2800 plus another $300 for the link, puts us at about $3100, to capture the entire human body (less fingers & toes). That is a LOT better than $20,000, which is the base price of most of the motion capture systems out there. I am also sketching out the specs for what could turn into a humanoid robot interaction testbed, we will see.
The Mininaut project is now complete (as far as I am concerned :-) It got quite a bit of attention locally by appearing on several news stations and in a couple of newspapers. More importantly, I have secured a postition this summer at the University of Southern California to prototype an inexpensive motion capture suit; that should be a fun project. I think I am changing my research focus, I should be moving to enabling technologies for molecular robots. I have a proposal ready to be submitted for funding in mid May and will be working with several other people from a range of fields, including mathematics, physics, and chemistry. We plan on developing a predictive algorithm for molecular construction of robot parts. Everyone around here seems to think it is going to be a good project, I hope we finish :-) Anyway, if you are interested to know about anything that I have been or am involved with, let me know, I like to discuss these things :-) Oh, and thanks for reading this far!
An almost complete version of the poster I did for the mininaut project is available in powerpoint format on my webpage here. I ended up with first place :-) on to the research competition for the school and then will compete soon for all of the cal state universities. Busy times, hope all is well for everyone else.
Just to let everyone know, I have updated my website with the "Mininaut" project that I am working on. You can view it here
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