STTR Phase I: General Robot Controller for Legged Mobile Robots with Integrated Open Source Software

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Solitcitation Year:
Solicitation Number:
NSF 06-598
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Small Business Information
308 E. 5th St., 6745 HOLLISTER AVENUE, Loveland, CO, 80537
Hubzone Owned:
Woman Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Principal Investigator
 Kim Wheeler-Smith
 (970) 593-0370
Business Contact
 Kim Wheeler-Smith
Title: PhD
Phone: (970) 593-0370
Research Institution
 Southern IL University Edwardsville
 Jerry B Weinberg
 Campus Box 1046
Edwardsville, IL, 62026-1046
 (618) 650-2368
 Nonprofit college or university
This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I research project proposes the development of a generalized processing and sensor pack complete with open-source software and curricula for using legged robots as a platform in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses. The innovation of this proposal is to provide a middleware product, which consists of a processing board with sensors for legged robots serving as a layer between the low-level controls and mechanics of a legged platform and the high-level application software. Educators will be able to move their middleware from one legged platform to another, allowing software, curriculum, and hardware re-use. The middleware provides a layer of abstraction away from the details of the mechanical control of the legged system. It also provides sensors, such as foot haptics and an inertial processing unit that are uniquely important for legged robots. This products enables higher-level cognitive algorithms, such as path-planning, vision-based algorithms and behavior-based control systems, to be developed and used to control a variety of robots over a wireless interface.The distinctive features and challenges of legged robots provide unique opportunities for high-school and college curricula in a numerous STEM topics. Robots are currently used in a variety of STEM classes. However, the educational robot platforms are dominated by wheeled robots; legged robots with a biological basis are almost absent. Robots, which have good on-board processing power, sensors, a wireless interface, and open-source software, are necessary for building a curriculum that meets educational standards and for doing interesting research assignments. Currently available legged robots on the market are lacking these features. An additional problem with robotics is that software, operating systems, and sensor hardware are different for each robot platform, so that sensors and software cannot easily be reused when moving from one platform to another. This is a risk to educators who develop curricula and invest in hardware which then gets discontinued. The outcome of the proposed research is specifically designed to be a controller for multiple legged robot platforms. Having an academic project team with expertise in robotics curricula working with a small robotics company whose expertise is design and development, a complete integrated product that educators can use in their STEM courses will be developed.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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