April 30, 2015

UCSC Autonomous Rover


Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 1.28.16 PMProject Summary

The UCSC Autonomous Rover competed in the NASA Centennial Challenges-Sample Return Robot 2013. It used computer vision to recognize a pre-cached object and used a path finding algorithm to navigate to the object location. To simulate extra-terrestrial limitations, the robots were banned from using magnetometers(Compasses), GPS, and GSM.

Mechanically the rover is built with rocker bogie suspension system to make it possible traversing versatile and terrains. It is able to make in-place turns and weights 30 kg.

The feedback control system consists of a gyroscope, 2 encoders, 3 panning infrared proximity sensors, Force Resisting Sensors (FSRs), impact sensors (sample collection), and 3 cameras.

The D* lite path-finding algorithm was used to autonomously navigate the rover to it’s approximate destination. We used a Haar cascade classifier to classify the sample object and recognize it in the field. The rover returns using D* lite and looks for a classified QR code that was left at the starting platform.

My Responsibilities and Achievements:

  • Formed the school’s 2nd best senior design project team of 6 engineering students, class of 2013.
  • Designed one of the top 3 autonomous navigation systems for the NASA Centennial Challenge.
  •  Integrated all the main hardware and software sub-systems by designing hierarchal state machines and high level communication protocols through UART.
  •  Optimized sensor readings and actuators’ performance by designing sampling algorithms.
  •  Designed and debugged digital and analog sensor boards.

Skills Required:  C, C++, System Design, State Machines, Linux, Wireless Networks, RF Communication, Zigbee protocol,UART, Analog Circuit Design.


Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 1.29.19 PMDemo:

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 1.28.50 PMAwards and Honors:

  • Technology Achievement Award for the Sample Return Robot challenge, a part of the NASA Centennial Challenges


  • Senior Design Competition Award: Winner of ‘2nd Place Overall”, among senior design projects in the class of 2013



Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 1.29.29 PMMedia and Press:

UCSC News Center

New Stone Soup VT LLC Consulting 

NASA Technology Introducing the UCSC Autonomous Rover Team 

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 1.28.27 PMMentors