The Mechatronics Group is part of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and has developed a fleet of 6 mobile robots capable of operating independently in a wide variety of different terrains. Their research focuses on how robots can work independently of human intervention. Artificial intelligence and robotic learning are of particular interest to the Mechatronics Group.
The Mechatronics group aim to develop robots that provide solutions to persistent industry problems.
- MARVIN is the group's security robot and the oldest member of the group at 8 years old and has grown considerably in the that time, from looking like a mobile road cone to a more human like figure. Powered by two electric wheel chair motors and two 12 V gel cell batteries and standing over 1.8 metres high, MARVIN can become menacing if an intruder is discovered or alternatively can help you find the place you are looking for if you are lost. He is currently undergoing a refurbishment to enhance his capabilities.
- Itchy and Scratchy are the group's co–operative robots. They have been built to investigate using multiple small robots to accomplish tasks, which is the opposite direction of previous thinking, which has been to build bigger and bigger robots. This is very important if humans are going to explore and colonize other planets because the cost increases proportional to the increase mass of the payload. Using a tricycle configuration they are extremely maneuverable which enables them to turn within there own length.
- The Tank is the heaviest robot in the group weighing in excess of 100Kg. It is a tracked vehicle, similar to a military tank, and with a lower centre of gravity it easily climbs stairs. As the grandmother in the USAR project the grandmother will traverse the rubble before deploying Rubblebots who will penetrate further into the damaged area trying to find survivors.
- Rubblebot is the main robot in the USAR project. The mother carries approximately 20 daughter robots which will be able to get into cracks and crevasses to search for people that are trapped. A signal is then sent back the to the mother which alerts the rescues to the survivors. Powered by Lithium–ion batteries, the Rubblebot has an endurance of 2+ hours, as well as featuring a unique top/top chassis which ensures the vehicle can keep going even if it rolls over.
- The ROV is the group's underwater submersible vehicle. Originally gifted to the group from an ex–pat kiwi who worked for a Singaporean ocean engineering company, the ROV has been through a series of modifications to allow it to fit into the group. While the groups end goal is full autonomy, the ROV is the furtherest from this goal and is currently controlled by a human operator on shore. Power is supplied from a shore based power system which provides power for the motors, underwater lights and the micro ATX pc inside the ROV's main hull. This power cable, together with the Ethernet cable for the control of the vehicle, form the umbilical cord of the ROV, which means the ROV doesn't have a time limit on the work it does, and is only limited by the human operators endurance and the length of the umbilical.
Unique Capability Proposition
The group has specific capability in the development of a vast range of robots that can perform a variety of functions.