UWRT Rover Robotic Arm Design

Richard Liang, Sasanka Nagavalli, Sirui Song, Xindi Zhang and David Effa
Case revision date: 
12 pages

The University of Waterloo Mars Rover Team consists of a group of voluntary undergraduate and graduate students who enjoy working in the field of robotics and space exploration. The team designs different robots for a variety of competitions across North America [1]. The team participates in the University Rover Challenge (URC) and NASA Sample Return Rover Challenge (NSRRC) held every year in Hanksvile, Utaha. The goal is to create a wirelessly controlled rover with the capability of fine object manipulation which can be operated on Mars-like terrains. Figure 1 shows Queen's University Engineering team mars rover design [2]. The arm manipulator mounted on the rover should perform a variety of different tasks and successfully complete different missions including a sample return task and equipment service tasks.

Hence, the UW Mars Rover Team needed to design a tele-operated robot with a precise robotic arm manipulator to perform various tasks based on precision in a Martian environment. The proposed robotic manipulator combines mechanical moving parts with motors and software to control the motors. This design requires a thorough kinematics analysis of the robotic arm.

Sirui Song, a fourth year Mechatronics engineering student, was tasked to design a low-cost (under $2500), accurate and mobile manipulator capable of object detection and delicate manipulation that can easily mount on an autonomous mobile robot. URC guidelines from 2014 were used as constraints and Sirui worked on this design challenge with the support of other members in the Mar Rover Team.

Learning objectives: 
The teaching objective of this case is to apply kinematic principles taught in ME321 Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines to solve an engineering problem. The case study can be used as effective material for ME32 course. The case will be organized as follows:
- Generate a list of engineering requirement specifications (criteria and constraints)
- Generate functional requirements and constraints and go through engineering design process
- Generate a drivetrain layout drawing or Computer Aided Design (CAD) solid model
- Apply Kinematic principles to calculate the movement and position of the grippers.
Key words: 
Kinematics, dynamics, position analysis, force balance, Kinematic Design; Linear Actuator; Tele-operated robot; System Architecture
CEAB attributes: 
Use of Engineering Tools; Investigation; Design
Module 01 - Case Study
Module 02 - Rover Manipulator Needs Analysis
Module 03 - Conceptual Designs
Module 04 - Rover Maniupulator Kinematics Analysis
Module 05 - Rover Manipulator Software and Control Design
Module TN - Teaching Note

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