ARISE Project Flipper Robot
As part of the Autonomous Robotic InSpEction project (ARISE) we have been using a Rover Pro robot created by Rover Robotics. We’ve affectionately called it ‘Flipper’ after the optional extra flipper tracks which are attached to it. Our use case for it is to carry a payload with the hardware necessary for controlling the robot, cameras for monitoring the surrounding area, GPS receiver and the main processing board, VCS-1.
List of hardware on board:
- VCS-1 System
- ATX power supply
- Realsense D435i camera
- Realsense D435 camera
- GPS unit
Recently we have been carrying out a lot of tests on the Flipper as can be seen in the video.
The system has been designed so that adding new modules and sensors will be a simple process. Using the flexible FPGA platform with custom programable silicon also brings many opportunities for accelerating various application on the edge such as AI Inference and many other tasks. The VCS-1 offers a high-speed USB-C interface, and together with all ATX voltage standards coming from the system power supply, the possibilities for the onboard sensors are endless.
The RealSense cameras onboard enable the Robot to obtain data about its surroundings. The D435 camera has an RGB image channel and a depth channel and the D435i also carries the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor, enabling access to IMU data. Cameras can be used in various combinations. For example, as our robot does not have the front or back side specified, the cameras can be installed so that they point in opposite orientations and are enabled dependant on the drive direction. Camera data can also be used to feed an AI Inference software to detect the objects based on a custom pre-trained neural network, like these, for example.
Tests were made at Nottingham Trent University where we tested the platform for speed, agility, battery life and precision of the GPS receiver.
There are numerous potential use cases for our robot, including:
• Autonomous field inspection
• Autonomous building inspections (the Flipper can climb stairs)
• Critical substance delivery
• Mineshaft mapping