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PIC-based Derbot AGVs face navigation challenge

A-DerbotThis one tickled my fancy, and may be worth Gadget Masters checking out. On the Universities Research blog we wrote about a robot challenge that takes place at the University of Derby.

See University of Derby sets robots a racing

Specifically, the Derbot design is based around either a PIC 16F873A, 18F242 or 18F2420, with DC motors driven by PWM, and I2C bus for expansion.

Tim Wilmshurst, University Head of Subject for Electronics and Sound – and the originator of this “Derbot” design – also wrote a book to help students build their own AGV.

It’s Designing Embedded Systems with PIC Microcontrollers: Principles and Applications, and is aimed at students of electronics, mechatronics and computer engineering.

Designing Embedded Systems with PIC Microcontrollers - Principles and Applications

Designing Embedded Systems with PIC Microcontrollers – Principles and Applications

Why did he write the book?

Every year I found myself supervising a number of student projects which involved the design of some sort of AGV (Autonomous Guided Vehicle). Too many of these projects never “got off the ground”, as students made non-optimum design decisions in areas like vehicle geometry, motor and power supply selection, and so on. From this sense of frustration the Derbot project arose.

The aim of the Derbot was to give students a core AGV design, which gave them the basic chassis and electronics, but then allowed them flexibility to customise in the way they saw fit. Later I starting approaching publishers with the idea of writing a book which used the Derbot as the main example design. The first goal was to write a short book. However ideas kept getting added, leading to what is now a pretty solid book. In its final form the book brings together both the experience we have had with the Derbot, alongside a wealth of professional embedded design experience.

Features of the book are listed as:

  • Gain the knowledge and skills required for developing today’s embedded systems, through use of the PIC microcontroller.
  • Explore in detail the 16F84A, 16F873A and 18F242 microcontrollers as examples of the wider PIC family.
  • Learn how to program in Assembler and C.
  • Work through sample designs and design ideas, including a robot in the form of an autonomous guided vehicle (the Derbot).
  • Accompanied by a CD-ROM containing copies of all programs and software tools used in the text and a ‘student’ version of the C compiler.

“Each robot follows the same track laid out in the auditorium, this year seeking and retrieving a lighted object which it must find,” says Tim.

“It must pause at obstacles and deliver the object to one of several finish zones, sorting it according to its lighting pattern. Points are awarded for the machine’s speed and accuracy.”

Tags: Derbot, PIC

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