20 April 2018

Dave: an AI powered robot

Merry Le worked on SensiLab's intelligent robot for her summer scholarship project. She wrote about her experience developing 'Dave'.

The future where humans and robots coexist is not so far away, and this is certainly the case in SensiLab. Meet Dave. Dave is an AI powered robot that will soon become your tour guide around our research laboratory. Dave will follow you and navigate his way around the lab, highlighting and answering questions about the key features of SensiLab. I was lucky enough to spend eight weeks working on Dave as part of my summer research project.

My aim was to enable robot locomotion, obstacle avoidance, mechanical system for people tracking and to create a prototype for the physical body of Dave.

The robot’s movement was achieved using an Arduino microcontroller and two motors coupled sensors that make it possible for the robot to accurately turn or move in a straight line for any specified distance. Ultrasonic sensors detected when an object or person was in front of Dave, causing him to stop and avoid collision. A camera was mounted on a pan and tilt mechanism placed in the ‘head’ and moved according to an algorithm that recognised and tracked faces, keeping the person in the centre of the frame.

For Dave’s body, there were two parts to it: a platform with multiple levels to house the various components, and an outer shell. These were designed and modelled in Solidworks, a 3D CAD software, before being laser cut and 3D printed respectively.

Over the course of this project, I have learnt and developed many new skills that will help me become a better engineer. Given that the field of robotics and artificial intelligence is experiencing significant growth at the moment, this makes it an exciting space to work in and I am very grateful for the opportunity from SensiLab. I really enjoyed working with the team, everyday was fun and interesting, and I am thankful for all the support and guidance given to me throughout the eight weeks.