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Meeting Notes, January '06

by Jim Kindsvater Fall 2006


January 21, 2006


Cathy Saxton opened the meeting and introduced the FIRST robotics team that she and Tom have been sponsoring. The FIRST challenge is to shoot baskets among other things. The shooting apparatus is shown below:

The shooting apparatus consists of a set of spinning wheels against which the soccor ball is dropped.

The ball spins foward between the wheels and the opposing ramp as is strongly propelled across the room. The angle of fire can be adjusted as shown in the pictures.


The FIRST practice event occurs on Feb. 18th at the International School in Bellevue. The actual First Regional ChampionShip occurs March 2nd through March 4th at the Memorial Colliseum in Portland.


Steve Kaehler got up and led the general discussion starting with individual introductions. Steve asked if we should be looking for possible alternatives to the usual Show & Tell discussion. He suggested technical discussions or problem solving sessions.

A discussion took off regarding everyone's favorite processor. Cathy Saxton likes the Atmel series due to the reasonable cost and free tools available.

Dave Hyland thinks the cat's meow is the Phillips LPC2XXX at about $23.00. This chip is extremely powerfull, but development tools can be costly. Dave also showed us a MAXSonar board for $29.99. ( It detects from 0 to 254 inches (over 21 feet).


Jim Kindsvater chimed in with information about the Cypress PSOC line of processors which range from simple to complex and offer great flexibility.


Professor Dieter Fox: Projects in Autonomous Robotics

Professor Fox is interested in the Robotic Control System; that is, the system which relates the world to the robot. Prof. Fox showed a video of Minerva-a robot museum guide in WA, DC, which interacted with people. He also spoce about RoboSoccer and the RoboCup challenge. He compared the chess challenge to RoboSoccer.

Static Dynamic
Deterministic Stochastic
Accessible Inaccessible
Turn-Based Random

The challenge in RoboSoccer is to derive a world view from images using colors. The downward looking control cameras integrate color information obtain over tiem t build a world model. They establish color landmarks, establish hypthectical locations for the players and the ball, take multiple observations, and statisically narrow the hypothetical locations to locate each robot. Once the position of the robot and the ball are dtermined, the control computer must then projects the ball motion and direct the Robo Players to react accordingly.

All teams have the same hardware-they use the standard chip that comes in the RoboDog and only modify the firmware. The control computer coordinates the RoboDogs wirelessly but exerts no direct control.

Professor Fox also discussed using multiple robots to map distinct areas. Each robot makes an autonomous map. Each robot then instructs a partner to stop, finds it, and combines their maps