As my partner and I wrapped up our robotic project, I realized how fast time has flown by during this REU period. We did not end up with a fully functioning robot aide like we had originally planned, however, we did accomplish many of the tasks that dealt with the different parts of the robot system individually. Some of the major points that we were able to tackle included the iRobot to Beaglebone Black (BBB) connectivity, HC-05 Bluetooth module to BBB connectivity, iRobot communication and control with the smartphone app, and an LSD-SLAM algorithm implementation with a camera. Due to limited time and running into hardware issues at the end of the project period, we were not able to fully demonstrate all of our accomplishments.
The time and work put into this research will definitely not be wasted. To be able to see the different parts of the project working is already a good step forward. I think the impact of the research done behind our robotic aide will definitely be significant. Assistive robots are expensive, and by being able to show that we can create one with an iRobot Create 2 is very promising. Bluetooth wireless technology was also researched and implemented with the robotic aide. This technology is becoming huge so having dug our hands into the basics will give us a jump start as future developers. The potential of robot aides and wireless technology can definitely prove to be a benefit in helping people.
There is a lot of future work that can be done under our robotic aide for the blind project. First of all, it would be a good place to start by completely assembling everything that we had working into a fully functional robot system. Aside from that, I think implementing voice-control/command and voice-feedback would be definitely helpful to the group of individuals that we intended this robot system for which were blind people. A robot that can output simple warning noises after detecting an oncoming obstacle or danger could be very helpful. Not just that but the robot could also be programmed to give audio-out directions as it leads the blind user inside a building. A walking-stick mount or something similar would also be needed as a link between the robot and blind user.
Personally, the Robotics REU here at the University of Wisconsin-Stout has been such an eye-opening experience. I attend this university as an engineering student and I learned so much about the Vocational Rehabilitation Institute on campus and the biomedical technology set in place here at the school, all of which was completely unknown to me prior. I learned a lot about planning and running a research project during the REU. One lesson I learned the hard way is to make copies of my work and to document working parts of the project right away just in case the worst happens.
I am satisfied with how far the research and project has come despite not having a completely working robot aide by the end of the REU. I am thankful for the mentors, who guided us and helped us through the whole research experience. I am also thankful for the engineers from outside universities that I have come to know through the past few weeks. It’s been a great summer here in Menomonie.
Currently, I will be planning on graduating in the fall semester. This opportunity has allowed for me to have a better understanding and a more in-depth experience on how research is conducted as a student. It also has given me a chance to discuss and learn about graduate school, which is something I have never really considered. I hope to use all that I have gained from this REU opportunity to help me in the very near future.