Colony Prepares Way For New Platform


DECEMBER 08, 2011 | ALEX ZIRBEL

The Colony Team is pushing towards having a fully functional Scout platform by the end of the semester. The Scout is designed as an evolution of the current platform employed by Colony, building on the technology of the older Colony III robots and offering new functionality to each individual robot. In this way each robot can offer more intelligence to the swarm, operate over more extreme terrain, and cover larger distances more quickly.

Here are some of the things that Colony Project has been working on:

Scoutfly

Colony is prototyping a new power delivery circuit for the Scout main board. The main focuses of the revised design are to increase power efficiency and make development easier. This new power delivery circuit will be integrated into the main Scout board, which will then be sent out for printing.

Sensors

Testing sensor limitations and capabilities is important in determining what the sensor outputs and ultimately writing the driver code for that sensor. Colony has been testing each of the sensors that will be on Scout to verify that the sensors will give the functionality they expect Scout to have. (Here's a picture of testing the Bearing and Orientation Module:)

Simulator

Writing robot behaviors can be tricky because of errors in hardware. In order to facilitate code development while Scout is being manufactured, Colony is developing a simulator for Scout. The simulator will mimic the hardware and will interface with the software exactly as the hardware would, allowing users to test their code without any modifications.

Software

The Scout software runs on ROS in a Linux environment on the Gumstix. Colony has been working on creating a software architecture for Scout using a publisher/subscriber method. Each component of Scout can output to and listen to channels that are shared between all the components. In this way, the user, too, can communicate with the hardware by publishing to and listening to channels.

As always, check out more at www.colonyscout.com!