Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The PORPOISE 12-Step Sea Perch to RoboBoat Pipeline Plan


Presents 

PORPOISE

a Robotics Curriculum of the Students, by the Students, for the Students!

 (NOTE: This is a rough draft, subject to modification, which we share to enable citizen scientists and community stakeholders in the cloud to help us develop a curriculum that will ultimately work for everybody, particularly folks who felt that traditional engineering curricula under-served their needs.)

Dear fellow Teachers and Students, and Robotics Enthusiasts all,

Welcome to PORPOISE: Precision Oceanographic Robotics Program In and On the Sea Environment, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research in cooperation with Motion Picture Marine!

A very happy new year to you all!

We hope your holidays were "plus que parfait" and  "double fun bar none"!

With this blog we will lay out plans for working together to co-create what we hope will be the most effective aquatic robotics platform possible!

We know you are going to be super busy at your schools this semester and are aware of your time constraints so we are working hard to make sure that  participation in the Sea Perch to PORPOISE pipeline development project will enhance and add to your curricular activities and educational goals rather than burden them further.

Ultimately, with the benefit of your insights and ideas and ingenuity, we hope to get STEM learning through hands-on microcontroller based aquatic robotics to be an embedded part of science/technology/engineering/math curricula in schools around the world. In this way we hope to more effectively cultivate a new crop of "engineers without borders"...  but definitely with a purpose! We hope to invite everybody down the yellow brick road to an Oz where you are all wizards, using physicalized computing and embedded microcontrollers, sensors and actuators to help solve the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century!


Err ... but we are  getting ahead of ourselves!

Let's start at the beginning, seeing how we can build upon the experience many of you had with Sea Perch ROV building (perhaps when you were in Middle School?) and turn it into a pathway to successful understanding of Aquatic and Marine Robotics and maybe a ticket to participation in the world famous Roboboat and Robosub competitions, or even a ticket into the engineering program at the college of your choice!

This is a totally OPEN-SOURCE initiative, so don't feel you have to be enrolled in our class (or any class!) in order to participate.  We are using the free operating system UBUNTU and all the software we use is open-source or freeware, freely available on the internet (unless the nefarious SOPA gets in the way of liberty, justice and the American way that we forged here from the ideals of all peoples and nations around our interconnected networked globe!). All the hardware components we use will be either off-the-shelf or  scavenged from garages or junkyard or low cost.  You should be able to jump right in and follow along with us as we grow, and hope you will contribute your own ideas, experiences and design in the spirit of "one for all and all for one!"

 Of Mentors and Proteges...
 We are helping to set up mentor/protege partnerships between University STEM outreach programs and local high schools to make Aquatic Robotics one easy and effective way to bring more under-served youth into the exciting and lucrative field of water-based civilian and Naval engineering and environmental sensing technology.

Two professors who have been incredibly helpful as advisors and mentors from the get-go have been Dr. Robert Tyce, from the University of Rhode Island Department of Oceanographics Engineering, who, with his students, is the AUVSI reigning champion for the 2011 AUVSI Roboboat competition, and Dr. Nikolaus Correll, from the University of Colorado at Boulder Computer Science  Department, who is leading the pack with his innovative applications of Swarm Robotics technology.

We are  working closely  with Dr. Todd Ullah,  an old friend and colleague of ours from the Motion Picture Marine/Jefferson High School D.E.M.M.O Productions (Digital Engineering for Multi-Media Occupations) Perkins Vocational-Academic-Industry partnership initiative that we ran throughout the 1990s in inner city Los Angeles. Dr. Ullah was  former director of Science for the Los Angeles Unified School District and is now  Principal of  Washington Preparatory High  School (in Inner City Los Angeles, not Washington DC).   We will be doing a basic Sea Perch build  with 4 students from his E-Tech Small Learning Community program (with mentorship from  UCLA Engineering) this Thursday morning. Our goal is to build one ROV  by the end of Thursday with them to get things rolling so that throughout the semester we can explore ways of making PORPOISE a pipeline to a new way of teaching science and math so it is relevant to a wider audience.

We are also working with Venice High School's After School Robotics Club  Team and with the Technology Club students of Washington Math Science Technology Public Charter School in DC and the Evanston Township High School in  Chicago and plan to work  with students from a few others (principally students in Colorado served by the U Colorado BOLD Center and Project Goldshirt STEM outreach programs and students served by URI mentors such as the Providence Career and Technical Academy in Rhode Island).  But this is just a start.

We hope that all of you who are interested in extending the Open Source  "PORPOISE Robotics with a Purpose" mission to young people all over the world will join us in making aquatic/marine oriented robotics fun, inexpensive and accessible.
Here is a draft of a brief outline and rough schedule of how we intend to move forward this semester (subject to change as experience dictates!).

THE PORPOISE 12 STEP PLAN TO AQUATIC ROBOTIC COMPETENCY: From Sea Perch to Semi-Autonomous Hybrid RoboBoat.

1. MAKE YOUR UNDERWATER ROV: 
Build out your  Sea Perch kits according to the instructions provided with the kit. This way we have a common platform to work with.
You will need at least one Sea Perch kit!
TIME NEEDED: 3 to 4 hours?



(You can also  build a virtual ROV at Nautilus Live here!)





2. GET READY TO TAKE THE MAN OUT OF THE LOOP AND  GET DOWN WITH YOUR ARDUINO



 A: Wire an 8-Pin (RJ-45) Surface-Mount Modular Telephone Jack as interface between the Sea Perch Cat5E cable and the Arduino mounted Motor Shield.
TIME NEEDED: 1/2 hour?


BE VERY CAREFUL to wire this correctly.  Use a Voltmeter set to CONTINUITY to make sure you are talking to the correct motor on the Sea Perch.  You plug the Cat5 cable from the Sea Perch in and test to see if you can make the continuity test beep. This  indicates that there is a path through each motor. DO NOT rely on what you THINK is the order of the twisted pair (colored) wires in the cable; looks can be deceiving! (Trust us, we fried many a chip in the trial and error phase!).

If you are using the Adafruit Motor Shield (which has 4 motor inputs) like we are, make sure you plug  the left (Port) motor of the Sea Perch into one side (we use Motor1) and the right (Starboard) motor of the Sea Perch on the other side (we use Motor3). You can then use either Motor2 or Motor4 for the Up-Down Sea Perch Motor (we use Motor2). The idea is that the Up-Down motor will not be used when the thruster motors are being used, but that both thrusters (Port and Starboard) will be used simultaneously and so they should be on separate H-bridge IC chips (so separate sides of the shield). This way we run less risk of burning out the motor shield.  It also helps to use piggybacked L293DNE chips to increase current capacity (each is rated at .6 amps with a 1.2 A peak; piggy backing doubles current capacity) or to replace with sn754410 chips that handle up to 2A).





(Note this solution replaces the previous instructions to "Hack the Sea Perch manual controller" which is crossed out  below.  We wanted to save folks the $8.95 that a Telephone Jack costs and go for the free hack of the existing Sea Perch controller, but the risk of ruining that board outweighs the cost benefit, so we now recommend using a dedicated jack for running the Perch off of computer control!)
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 WHAT NOT TO DO:


A: "Hack" the manual controller board for the Sea Perch by soldering wires onto the back of the circuit board, according to instructions provided by Motion Picture Marine PORPOISE, and connect the wires to breadboards.




This was our original "hack" of the Sea Perch controller but after lots of testing we find that while the left and right motors work fine (blue/white and green/white wires soldered to back of board) replacing the SPDT manual toggles, the use of the push button normally closed toggles controlling the up/down motor is very tricky and can lead to short circuits. One push button has to be kept depressed at all times and if it doesn't stay down for some reason (as when the tape holding it down wears out)  the short can occur.

We show this picture now as an example of what NOT to do!  Ah, trial and error -- the essence of engineering. Since we ruined more than one  Sea Perch controller this way we now recommend leaving the Sea Perch controller alone and keeping it as is for manual steering and testing. When desiring to run the Sea Perch off of a computer,  simply unplug the Cat5 from the Sea Perch controller and plug  it into the newly wired telephone jack . This gives quick flexibility in choosing one's control option.
Strangely, we also found that running the Sea Perch via a hacked controller from a motor controller board and then trying to use it manually seems to cause the SPDT toggles to wear out and become useless over time! So our advice: leave your Sea Perch controller alone!
_______________________________________________________________________________________

B: Assemble/Prepare  Microcontrollers that will control the Sea Perch manual controller.   In the first  case the microcontroller is 'ready to use', in the second
the students get a chance to solder the components on the PCB board (using the same skills learned in soldering the Sea Perch controller)  to learn and understand more about this open source microcontroller. Both will have the same functionality.
You will need 2 microcontrollers  for this initial phase:  an Arduino Uno Microcontroller and a  Sparkfun Arduino Microcontroller PTH kit.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour?





3. "GO CAPTAIN AMERICA AND MAKE YOUR MIGHTY SHIELD"
Build the Motor-Shield that will mount on the microcontroller and control the Sea Perch motors. These accept the 12 V battery input from the supplied Sea Perch battery.  
You will need 2 motor-shield kits (Adafruit Motor Shield Kit v.1.1) that require some soldering.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour?  








4. LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WALKING
Connect the Arduino to a Computer and run the Sea Perch in real time  using the Arduino IDE Serial Monitor to allow the motors to be driven by a student using letters from the Computer Keyboard. 
We will provide you with the code and instructions based on the wonderful work of Andrew 'Tuna' Harris and his Boatduinode project for web-server control of Boarduino-hacked RC boats.
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes?

We use the excellent Arduino sketch created by Andrew 'Tuna' Harris and made available at github here. (Screenshot taken using Shutter for Ubuntu).

The photo shows us using a boarduino mounted on a breadboard connected to the hacked toy car RC controller. The Arduino on the left isn't being used, but could be used in place of the Boarduino. We just used the boarduino to follow Andrew 'Tuna' Harris' work and because it is smaller!


5. LET YOUR COMPUTER DO THE WALKING
Run the Sea Perch motors "blind"  using a compiled  Arduino Sketch running independently on the microcontroller to demonstrate the initial stages of CNC robotics (i.e. "autonomy").
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes?


In order to get real familiar with Arduino Microcontrollers and the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and programming robots in C AND using a breadboard, we introduce the students to the open source virtual environment called "Fritzing".


 This way, from the safety of their own personal computers, every student can learn all about wiring and programming their microcontrollers without spending a penny on real hardware and without the risk of ruining badly placed components. When confident they can then apply their virtual skills to the real robots!


6.   JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER!
Making an Arduino based  Robot you can drive around the classroom to learn about and test code.


Doing robotics on and under the water means having access to water and being able to waterproof things well.  The problem for many schools is that a pool or pond often isn't available and the problem for most of us, regardless of our location,  is that it takes time and money (and a fair bit of creativity) to make sure our micro-controllers, batteries, sensors, and servos and motors and other electronics are sufficiently safe from the ravages of H2O to justify testing in the field.  Nowadays more and more people are testing their robots by writing code for simulated bots in the virtual world, but ultimately one needs to test things out with real motors and servos before heading out to the water.  In this step we introduce you to hacking toy cars to start working with Arduino boards and code, and to building an "Ardbot" -- a classroom ready robot that will have most of the basic functionality of your roboboat/robosub so that you can jump right into coding and testing without ever leaving the safety of your land-lubber classroom!

6a.  TOYS ARE ROBOTS ARE US
 "Hack" a cheap Remote Controlled Toy Car transmitter (we bought the BigTime Muscle Camaro from Target for less than $15)  to accept input from the Arduino so that the toy car can be remotely controlled using the serial monitor and using the same code as in steps 5 and 6 to demonstrate the beginnings of wireless control of a robotics platform.
 You will need a single cheap  RC Car  with instructions for hacking which we will provide.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour?

(photos resized on Ubuntu using Converseen)







 6b.  BUILD AN ARDBOT.

The Ardbot we are using comes from the Los Angeles Robotics Club.  It uses a Polulu base and gear box and a dual H-bridge (motor controller chip) with a heat sink innovated by club founders Annika O'Brien and Michael Belanger.
The basic Ardbot concept is written about in Servo Magazine here:
http://www.robotoid.com/servomag/

The Ardbot we are using, shown below,  is well described by innovator Michael Belanger here with a great schematic for using the H-bridge correctly and the test code.  



Michael Belanger's schematic for wiring the Texas Instruments SN754410 Dual H-Bridge  for the LA Robotics Club Ardbot.

 The concept here is that students can develop and test all code and behaviors that we intend to use for the Sea Perch and Sea Hawk and run them on the Ardbot first. Once things are working in the classroom essentially the same code (with minor modifications depending on the motor shield used) and even the same Arduino board can then be used on the roboboat and robosubs.


7. SEA PERCH SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
 Assemble the MIT Sea Perch Sensor Suite ("a microcontroller-based platform that can be fabricated with minimal tools in a few hours, for under $200, which monitors Water Temperature, Depth, Conductivity and Light) and attach to the Sea Perch. The data the sensors monitor can be collected on a provided SD card and can then be uploaded to the Google Digital Ocean project.  The Suite is in Beta Testing at MIT right now and you will be participating in the testing.
You will need 1 MIT Sea Perch Sensor Suite
TIME NEEDED: 3 to 4 hours?




8.SEE SEA PERCH, SEE!
Hack a $70 Spy Video Car, remove the night vision camera and place it in a housing on the Sea Perch, with a video cable following the normal Sea Perch control cable,
giving it "eyes" to see underwater.
You will need 1 Spy Gear Video Car VH6 for this.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours
?




9.  FREE WILLY... AND THE SEA PERCH!
Create a floating platform for the Microcontroller/Motor Shield/Video Transmitter that the Sea Perch can tow around the water, giving the Sea Perch a much wider range. The floating platform can be a boat or a simple raft made of foam (much like the simple "Real Construction Build and Play Boats" that my 3.5 year old makes).





The microcontrollers will be housed in Otter cases.  An XBee Wireless shield will be added to the Arduino to allow communication with the land-based computer.  In this phase students will learn how to use wireless transmission to run the Sea Perch and consider the problems of waterproofing the controllers.
Students need to be creative in coming up with the materials for the floating platform as we move toward creative use of local materials and thinking outside the box.
You will need the XBee TX/RX (Transmitter Receiver) shield for the microcontrollers and the Otter Cases and hardware
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours?




10.  BUILDING A BOAT TO BOLDLY GO ...  WHERE BOB BALLARD HAS BEEN?!
In this phase students are invited to join MPM PORPOISE in building a robotic surface craft (called  "Sea Sparrow"?, "Manta Ray"? Depending on Design...)  that can bring the Sea Perch ROV to specific locations for exploration of the underwater environment, much as National Geographic Explorer Bob Ballard takes his ROVs around the world on "The Nautilus" (see http://www.jason.org/public/nautiluslive.aspx).


The ultimate intent of the PORPOISE Robotics Platform is to enable the Sea Perch ROV to be "tricked out" with cameras, lights and sensors and then combined with a robotic surface craft to enable high school students to emulate Bob Ballard's National Geographic Exploration vessels where a surface craft deploys an ROV.











The boat platform will take more thought and experimentation than the simple floating platform in step 10 as it will need to have its own motor thrusters, be hydrodynamic  and streamlined and  house not only the initial Sea Perch Microcontroller, but an additional Microcontroller/Motor Shield/XBee set for controlling the Sea Sparrow Surface Craft.
You will need plastic sheets, foam, two "Sea Perch" style 12 V motors (Sea Perch used the Jameco 232021 series which are no longer available; try substituting the 232040 series but watch current consumption)  and propellers (used now as boat thrusters) and water proofing cases and materials for assembling a sea-worthy and motor-ready surface craft, along with a template we will provide for a simple hull design to help  students get started.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours?








11.  FROM "DEAD IN THE WATER TO "LIVE WITH ROBOBOAT"

In this step students add a micro-controller and Motor-shield and Xbee  to the boat, identical to what was controlling the Sea Perch when it was tethered to the floating platform, only this additional Arduino/MotorShield/transceiver will control the boat thrusters, while the former will control the Sea Perch thrusters. Both the Sea Perch microcontroller and the Sea Sparrow  Microcontroller will be mounted on the deck of the Boat and both can be controlled remotely via the XBee radios from the shore based computer. With this step completed the Sea Sparrow can now actively  take the Sea Perch to a site of deployment rather than being towed by the Sea Perch. The Students will also learn to connect a servo to the Arduino and connect it to
a pair  of robot claws that will hold the Sea Perch in place at the surface as it is towed by the boat to location and then released so it can be instructed to descend and start analysing what's  going on under the boat. 
You will need an additional Arduino board, MotorShield Kit and Xbee transceiver, servo, robotic claws and actuators and Otter Case and peripherals for this stage of the build. To build a robotic claw mechanism that can hold the Sea Perch from the boat you need to get two $10 claws and two $11  medium pan servos and two $6 pan bracket (Sparkfun also has a $30 tilt kit to add functionality that has the brackets and a tilt servo to go with the pan servo.
TIME NEEDED: 3 hours?






12. LET THOSE WHO HAVE EYES TO SEE SEE, LET THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR HEAR: Giving the Sea Sparrow Intelligence

In this last module of the build students, having previously equipped the Sea Perch with the MIT Sea Perch Sensor Suite and the Video Camera to let it sense the underwater environment, add the PORPOISE Sensor Suite to the Surface Craft to enable it to sense what is going on topside. There are many sensors available for Arduino based robotics projects today.   Some of the sensors the students will put on the Sea Sparrow will be somewhat  familiar to anybody who has used the LEGO Mindstorms Kit.  We will work with six sensors initially.

1. The first sensor is the familiar ultrasonic range finder (we use the Parallax PING))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor for $30) , enabling the boat to sense objects and avoid collisions and take evasive action.

2. The second sensor is the IR Range Finder which is "probably the most powerful sensor available to the everyday robot hobbyist. It is extremely effective, easy to use, very affordable ($10-$20), very small, good range (inches to meters), and has low power consumption.


3. The third sensor is a PIR (Passive Infra-Red) Motion Sensor for about $10-- a pyroelectric device that detects motion by measuring changes in the infrared (heat) levels emitted by surrounding objects, enabling the craft to detect the presence of living creatures, fires, hot engines or moving objects reflecting solar radiation.

4. The fourth sensor is a LSM303DLH digital Navigational Compass/Accelerometer, for about $30, enabling the craft to do Dead Reckoning on a bearing.



5. The fifth sensor is a $60 gyroscope enabling even more precise orientation measurement and navigation as well as stabilization potential (A good comparison of accelerometers and gyroscopes can be found in this  sparkfun tutorial: "Gyroscopes measure angular velocity, how fast something is spinning about an axis. If you're trying to monitor the orientation of an object in motion, an accelerometer may not give you enough information to know exactly how it's oriented. Unlike accelerometers gyros are not affected by gravity, so they make a great complement to each other".




6. The sixth  sensor is a $60  EM-406A GPS module enabling the craft to navigate to a general location and report its location.




Students will learn about the different ways marine robots are able to navigate and be controlled using these sensors. The accelerometer on the LSM303DLH digital compass, for example, can also be used tor determining attitude, measuring the surge, sway and heave of the boat on the water, which could come in handy later for stabilization (see Chapter 8 project 21 of Tom Igoe's book 'Making Things Talk - Using Sensors, Networks, and Arduino to See, Hear and Feel Your World').  With these sensors connected to the Sea Sparrow Arduino microcontroller the craft will now be able to navigate semi-autonomously.  
(While the six sensors listed above come to about $200, students can opt to use only a few of them and still get navigational functionality; we recommend using a Navigational Compass/Accelerometer ($30) and an IR range finder ($10) for starters, then going for the ultrasonic distance sensor ($30). From there you can work your way up to ever more refined sensing and navigation.)
Whereas in step 11 the craft could be controlled by the land-based computer on the fly, step 12 enables the boat to run autonomously via an Arduino sketch uploaded to
the microcontroller that, by sensing its environment, can avoid collisions, turn around,  and navigate by itself to specific beacons. Depending on the sensors you add you can even program your robotic boat to react in very complex ways to environmental stimuli!
You will need the sensors and PCB board/shields and code and waterproof housing materials for this final phase of the project.
TIME NEEDED: 4 hours?

13."THE SWARM" --  JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE NOT TO GO BACK IN THE WATER!
This is step 13 of our 12 step plan.
Really.
Whassamattayou? If Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy can be a trilogy consisting of 5 books (actually, 6 now)  then it stands to reason we can have a 12 step plan that consists of 13 steps.  Also "the 13 steps is a paragraph of the Final Document of the  Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, providing a set of 'practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to acheive nuclear disarmament..."
So it has an important precedent.
But since most people are more familiar with the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program for addictions, and we admit we want you to get addicted to maritime and aquatic robotics engineering and environmental and security problem solving, well... let's just say we thought 12 steps would sound better. And anyway, the 13th step in our series is a bit... sophisticated. And perhaps out of the reach of all but the most ambitious beginners.  But then, you wouldn't be here, and wouldn't have read this far,  if you weren't an ambitious beginner would you?
So think of step 13 as the 13th Floor, like in a hotel (they are there but, for superstitious reasons they pretend they aren't) or, even better, like in the cybernetic sci-fi movie "The 13th Floor" where going through the door takes you into a virtual world of computer simulation, philosophical paradox and mind-blowing possibilities.

The German Eco-Disaster Sci-Fi Novel 'The Swarm' is now being adapted into a film with Uma Thurman. While the notion of a collective intelligence made up of swarming subsea microbial parasites and their macrocellular hosts trying to stop humanity's pollution of the oceans may be the stuff of fiction, you may be able to use your robotics acumen to one day make cybernetic systems that can help make our sea environments healthy again...



In Step 13 we follow the lead of the Correll Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder and build "Sea Swarm" Robotic "Droplets" which can be deployed from the back of your Sea Sparrow boat.  Think of the Droplets that form the Sea Swarm as ping-pong-ball sized to croquet-ball sized spherical floating robots with thrusters and sensors and antennas that can be dropped in the water and then, like a swarm of jellyfish or krill, or a tiny pod of little porpoises (or very wet sheepdogs), can individually locate objects and then call each other to come together and cluster and surround the objects of desire and then "shepherd" them home. Sound crazy?  There is a lot of research now into "Cooperative caging and transport using autonomous aquatic surface vehicles" and things like "autonomous robotic containment booms: visual servoing for robust inter-vehicle docking of surface vehicles".  Nick Correll and his students have already developed droplet bots for terrestrial use and his colleague Ken Sugawara showed us how they can use these bots to "herd" a pair of shoes and they are  now developing water bot droplets for functional Sea Swarms which they have agreed to mentor us in building and using for STEM education.

Our task in PORPOISE would be to have you students  build and program your own  Sea Swarm droplets, which can be deployed off of your Sea Sparrow,  and, depending on the buoyancy you set,  take on different challenges like herding fish and krill (similar to what whales and dolphins and sea lions do) so that we might one day  use robots to reduce the  need for (and the  impact of)  fishing with long lines, trawls and nets, or like   harvesting  oil from oil spills or shepherding the plastics that make up the Pacific Trash vortex  into containers,  or trimming back aquatic weeds so that we can clean up our oceans and waterways (and who knows, perhaps you will be the one's to figure out how to turn these liabilities into assets like renewable fuels and raw materials!). Sea Swarm droplets could even be used for search and recovery for flood and tsunami victims, much as small mobile robots are used on land today to help find and assist earthquake victims buried in the rubble.

With applied aquatic robotics almost anything is possible, and step 13 is where you get to start down that golden path to a brighter future!



WHAT'S NEXT? MOVING EVEN FURTHER DOWNSTREAM:
Once you  have completed the PORPOISE 12 step plan, you will have a very capable Sea Perch/Sea Sparrow hybrid Robosub/Roboboat Platform. 
The Platform can be  programmed in the Arduino/Processing (C language) environment and controlled manually but  remotely, via the computer keyboard on the fly via the serial monitor, or through updated programs compiled onto the microcontroller. The boat will be able to be programmed for  many navigational challenges and will carry the Sea Perch, much as Bob Ballard's Nautilus carries his ROVs to locations around the world, and then allow the Sea Perch to be deployed. 
The Sea Perch can then be driven remotely via signals relayed by the receiver on the boat down the cable to the Sea Perch, and the boat will transmit live video feed from the Sea Perch to a monitor on shore. The Sea Sparrow will also be able to bring the Sea Perch back to shore once it has gathered underwater data with the MIT Sensor Suite so that the data can be uploaded to digital ocean.
 These capabilities will enable a large variety of competition and research challenges to be undertaken, making the Sea Perch and Sea Sparrow valuable tools for future missions.  Students can continue to further refine the designs of both Sea Perch and Sea Sparrow, adding additional sensors and capabilities. They will serve as flexible platforms for experimenting with an endless variety of computer programming tasks and real world environmental data sensing and collection.

In addition to being able to  continue evolving the Sea Perch/Sea Sparrow, the students  will know how to  "hack" off the shelf RC controlled toys so as to cheaply expand capabilities and make use of things they find in their own playrooms, garages and even junkyards. This will help encourage more creative thinking about how to continue in robotics without breaking  the bank or reinventing the wheel.

The goal beyond the 12 Step Plan, which we hope you will undertake with us, is to have the students dream up missions for the Sea Perch/Sea Sparrow so that we can invite some of  them to a proposed 1 week summer camp, to be held in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research and the AUVSI  (Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) Roboboat/RoboSub competitions where they will come together with other students from around the world and work in cooperative/competitive virtual teams, pooling ideas and stimulating each other  to try implementing real-world tasks for the new hybrid platform.

The step beyond this is to have the students continue to grow with the program in the following school year, maintaining their contact with the students they met at the camp throught social media and prepare for an official PORPOISE competition the following year that provides a pathway to the collegiate level of Roboboat/Robosub competitions where the sky is the limit.

Please note that this will be a collaborative process that we hope to support as much as possible but that will really evolve thanks to your contributions to make it relevant, interesting and fun for everybody.  All materials produced will be OPEN SOURCE and freely shared via a website that we will be creating and that you will have lots of input in as pioneer partners.
All participants will receive appropriate credit and citation and permission to use the materials developed for non-commercial purposes and involve others is freely given. We are working to build a robotics platform that is empowering to all and lets us all use science, technology, engineering and math to better serve our families, communities and regions as well us helping us better serve our country and make our world a better safer, healthier place.

We look forward to continuing this journey with you!

Sincerely,

Dr. T.H. Culhane
PORPOISE STEM Curriculum Development Coordinator

1 comment:

  1. I am a high school engineering teacher at a maritime science program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. I am extremely interested in working on this project and using the materials created with my students. I'd love to be involved in this project as it fits in perfectly with what our students are doing and what we'd like to see them move towards. melissafernandez@dadeschools.net

    ReplyDelete