Monday, December 1, 2008

New Robotics and Haptics Curriculum using the PHANTOM Omni Robot from SensAble

The PHANTOM Omni robot from SensAble is a 6 degree of freedom sensed and 3 degree of freedom actuated robot. It's three motors can actuate the end-effector to span the entire X, Y, Z region in its workspace. Position measurement along X, Y, and Z is done using digital encoders while measurement of rotations about these axes (roll, pitch and yaw) is done using potentiometers.

Not only the Omni is small but powerful for its size, it is also a safe to operate, easy to interface and cost effective robot. All these characteristics make the Omni a great tool for teaching or research in robotics and haptics.

We, at Quanser have developed an entire curriculum of robotics and haptics that uses the Omni robot, and the QuaRC software to go through concepts such as forward and inverse kinematic development, position control and force generation as well as advanced haptic applications. The curriculum consists of 10 individual lab experiments all containing pre-laboratory and in lab sections. The first couple of experiments are dedicated to developing forward and inverse kinematics which are basic elements of any robotic application. Later experiments use these developments to perform position control and point to point trajectory following with the robot. Jacobians are covered in a complete stand-alone lab session and the final three experiments in the curriculum become more advanced as they introduce haptic control and virtual reality concepts by having the students design haptic gravity wells, haptic walls and last but not least a haptic ping-pong game!

The fact that there is one complete and stand-alone experiment for every concept makes it easy for instructors to match their laboratory content with the exact material they are covering during the course. In addition the wide range of experiments along with their fairly distributed difficulty level make the curriculum perfect for both undergraduate and graduate level studies.

As the Omni is now one of the devices supported by QuaRC, interfacing to this device's sensing and actuating elements is as easy as connecting a fire-wire cable between your laptop/desktop computer and the Omni and throwing blocks in your Simulink model. The robot's easy interfacing, high safety rating and compact size make it so portable that instructors can even take it to perform in class demonstrations . Imagine having to do that with a CRS or Mitsubishi PA-10 robot with their not very compact accompanying hardware!

Stay tuned as videos of Omni in action are coming soon.

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