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Problem: Each year, the IEEE Southeast Conference (SECON) hosts an autonomous, robot- based hardware competition. Over the past several years, Mississippi State University has been strongly represented. Mississippi State’s SARGON team took first place in the competition last year. This year we are striving to uphold and advance Mississippi State’s legacy of excellence. The 2004 IEEE SoutheastCon Hardware Design Competition will be held in Greensboro, NC. This year’s competition has been dubbed, “The Hunting Session”. The goal of the competition is to design an autonomous robot that can navigate its way to a Morse code station, acquire an order of targets, retrieve the targets, and return them to a designated area. The course must be completed in the shortest time possible. This challenge appears, at first, to be a mere game, but the technology and design techniques that are being used could be implemented in a variety of practical applications. For example, the designs achieved in this project could be used in a range of industrial applications where using autonomous vehicles to transport objects would result in lower costs and safer working environments. In addition to the procedural rules of the competition, our robot is restricted by several constraints: “1. Robots must be battery powered. No gas-powered robots will be allowed. 2. Robots must not be hazardous to human spectators. This would include expelling fumes, exploding, or running excessively out of control among other things. Robots that are deemed dangerous will be disqualified from the competition. 3. Robots shall have a maximum size of 2 feet (length, width, and height). 4. The robot may at no time destroy, damage, or alter any part of the track. 5. The robot must be completely autonomous.” The competition course surface will be a 20-foot long by 12-foot wide area of indoor/outdoor carpet. There will be white lines on the course to lead our robot to all necessary locations. All lines on the track will be made with 2-inch wide, white duct tape. Our robot must follow the white lines at all times and will not be allowed to deviate from the white lines at any time during the course run. The creators of the competition have withheld several competition variables. For instance, we have not been told what surface the playing field will be laid on. The competition is set to on the football field of Aggie Stadium at North Carolina A&T State University, but we will not know whether the course will be placed on the football field or on the surrounding track. This was done to encourage teams to design robots that would operate on various terrains. Since the competition is being held outside, our design must also be protected against any form of inclement weather. The procedural rules of the competition specify that the robot must begin in the designated starting area. A traffic light will be positioned in front of the robot, and will provide the robot with a starting signal. When the traffic light changes from red to green the robot will begin tracking a white line, which will be placed on the course terrain. After the start signal the robot will have 10 seconds to move under a bridge and onto the playing field. An integrated LCD screen will indicate that the robot has started by displaying “GO”. The first objective, upon reaching the playing field, will be to find the Morse code station. A traffic light will be positioned above the Morse code station. When the robot is in range of the station, the traffic light will change from green to red. The robot then must receive a transmitted Morse code message, which will be provided by an infrared led. The message will contain the order of targets to be acquired. After successfully deciphering the message, the robot must display the order of animals to be hunted and begin the hunting phase of the course. There will be three hunting stations: duck, rabbit and deer. A decoy of each animal (colored metal ball bearing) will be placed at its respective station. In order to successfully capture an animal, the robot must advance to the animal’s station and pick up a 1-inch diameter chrome steel ball. The ball will be waiting in a wooden container, placed at the front of the animal’s station. After acquiring all three targets, in their respective order, the robot must proceed to the parking station. After reaching the parking station, the robot must deposit all of the targets into a drop-off box located at the far end of the station. Finally, the robot will display the word “END” to the LCD screen, indicating the completion of the round. The main criteria for awarding points will be the speed at which the robot finishes the round, and on the accuracy demonstrated in accomplishing each requirement. The robot will be given a maximum time of five minutes to complete the round. The points awarded are based on the following criteria: “1) “Ready - Get Set - Go ” Moving within 10 seconds of the traffic light turning green. Moving completely out of the starting box. Displaying “STOP” at red light, “GO” at green light Hitting the covered bridge. Not moving within 30 seconds of traffic light turning green Moving around the covered bridge Moving after 10 seconds, but before 30 seconds 2) “Get Instructions” Getting to the Morse code station Stopping when the traffic light turns red Listing the name of each animal on the display unit, in correct order for each 3) “Hunting Stations” Not following the lines Capturing each target in the correct order Capturing any target out of the correct order Displaying “DONE” after capturing the last target Getting to each station 4) “THE END” Parking in the correct area Dispensing a ball into the drop-off box Displaying “THE END” after dispensing all balls Completing the round within 5 minutes Remaining time, only if the robot completes the target sequence in the correct order” Since the SARGON team captured first place at last year’s SECON competition, everyone will be watching the Mississippi State team. To achieve our goal, we must consider every design constraint, predict as many problems as possible and, above all, be prepared for anything. We have set our goal: To build a winning robot that will uphold our Mississippi’s legacy of excellence. Now we must strive to reach that goal.
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