University of Girona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5839-5848
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Future work in Electrical and Computer Engineering education is pointing towards gaining the ability to understand the technical details of a wide variety of disciplines. In this sense, open mobile robot platforms can be used as educational tools to promote and integrate different curriculum subjects. Therefore, the control system world and computer science share a mutual interest in robotics.

The clue to achieving a renewed path of progress is the integration of several fields of knowledge, such as computing, communications, and control sciences, in order to perform a higher level of reasoning and to use decision tools with a strong basis in theory. Moreover, experimental environments developed have helped to breathe life into theoretical concepts found in text books and have thereby greatly changed the educational experience of students. Students react positively to realism, since the models used for such experiments are in general accurately described by some relatively simple differential equations. Within this framework, the challenge of using mobile robots becomes evident. Therefore, in the educational community, the Robotics Education Lab becomes a resource for supporting courses with an academic curriculum in a broad range of subjects. Some important institutions, as the Carnegie Mellon University, have developed various teaching activities by introducing the mobile robots as a necessary academic tool in a broad sense in order to extend the student’s previously acquired knowledge. In this context, many universities take advantage of mobile robot competitions in engineering education. This allows real world problem projects to be tackled, and fundamental concepts by increasing motivation and retention purposes reinforced.

This research presents the educational aspects of the course “Applied Mobile Robotics”. The main aim of the course is to integrate different subjects as electronics, programming, architecture, perception sensors, communications, control, computer vision and trajectory planning. The academic skills are attained by the students in an overall sense; hence experiments are used to reinforce previously gained knowledge by integrating relationships between different academic subjects. The main difference with other mobile robot courses is the use of an open mobile platform as an interdisciplinary experimental tool. The course program consists of the theoretical and laboratory sessions related to the following different topics:

• Power System Electronics. This block briefly introduces the power system of the robot, where several basic concepts should be considered in order to design the dc motor power drivers.
• Design & Programming of Electronic Devices. This block presents the robot architecture and the PLD (programmable logic device) and p use. Finally, by using high level language from the PC labs, students can learn how to use the functions created to carry out the remote inter-actuation with the robot sensors and actuators.
• Modelling and Control Systems. The basic control topics related to experimental modelling, classic PID controllers design and optimal observers are presented.
robotics education, knowledge integration, open mobile platforms.