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Our Robots

Arctos

2020 - Present

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Auri

2017 - 2019

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AquaUrsa

2013 - 2016

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SubmURSA 2.0

2012

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SubmURSA

2011

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Bearacuda

2008 - 2010

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Ursa Minor

2006 - 2007

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Ursa Major

2005

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Kodiak

2002 - 2004

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Bear cub

2001

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Polar Bear

1997 - 2000

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Arctos

Overview

Arctos is ARVP’s next-generation robot which will represent it in Robosub 2020. It was developed using all the knowledge and experience of developing and testing Auri. Each system has been redesigned to improve performance and create ARVP’s best robot to date.
For more information check out Arctos' journal paper!

Auri

Overview

Auri was implemented with a new team structure, a team much more agile and financially stable than ever before. The result was a robot redesigned to far exceed the mechanical, electrical and software capabilities of its predecessors. In particular, the team focused on the completion of the pre-qualification task, barrel rolls, and the torpedo mission via sonar navigation. This was an interdisciplinary effort - building on years of iteration of our mechanical frame design, custom PCBs, and software architecture. Future renditions came with a stable mechanical platform and gradual upgrades to the computer and sensor boards and provided the software team with months of additional testing time to develop and refine its perception, planning, and control systems. With these improvements, Auri was more performant and reliable than ever, having the ability to flexibly and reliably execute all targeted missions in an uncertain environment.
For more information check out Auri's journal papers!

AquaUrsa

Overview

AquaUrsa was made with lessons learnt from previous years with regards to the construction of the physical platform, which were incorporated in new mechanical improvements specifically the sealing and ease-of-access to components. The electrical systems were further improved, expanding and developing on the backplane topology. In addition, a dedicated team worked to develop a functional Sonar system that could reliably acquire the Sonar pinger from the distances expected in competition. The software was an area of steady improvement, with tuning and corrections being made with each round of testing. In later years, the focus was towards building a robust, easy to expand, reliable platform that can gradually extend its functionality from a solid foundation over time. Small and significant changes were made to the physical assembly for ease-of-handling and to contribute to its robustness, and improvement in electrical systems and software design was towards using a unified architecture based on standard communication models, as well as maintaining reliability while expanding capabilities with an eye towards accomplishing more course objectives at RoboSub.

Mechanical Features

Electrical Features

Software Features

For more information check out AquaUrsa's journal papers!

SubmURSA 2.0

Overview

SubmURSA 2.0 aimed to improve existing designs on SubmURSA.

Mechanical Features

Electrical Features

Software Features

For more information check out SubmURSA 2.0's journal paper!

SubmURSA

Overview

SubmURSA was based on a new mechanical platform and improved electronics from those used in the team’s previous vehicle, Bearacuda. The passive sonar system was a new addition, amplifying and filtering the signal. In addition, having a revamped main board, improved power system through partitioning the power system, and modularised software through the ‘DisCo’ framework SubmURSA’s first version already stood head and shoulders above its predecessors. The later renditions were further refined off the prior experience, with key improvements to the mainboard, sonar board, power distribution board, and ‘in house’ motors as opposed to ‘off the shelf motors’. Along with a strengthened frame, redesigned mechanical systems, electrical hardware adapted for ease of use, software improvements for general improvement and adaptation to changing competition requirements.

Mechanical Features

SubmURSA’s design process had a major focus on making the design as modular as possible. A major improvement to SubmURSA’s accessibility was the addition of a clear outside shell to give visual feedback in the even of a board malfunction. SubmURSA’s propulsion system was the first to feature a combination of both pumps and thrusters. Using draw latches, the seal time dropped from 10 minutes on Bearacuda to 30 seconds on SubmURSA.

Electrical Features

The electrical system for SubmURSA was divided into multiple separate boards. These included the main board, which featured a MOD5270 from Netburner running microLinux, four Sabertooth dual 12A motor controllers with one 10A motor controller, an Ocean Servers OS5500, a combination of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and digital compass to achieve proper bearing, four SQ26R1 hydrophones with built in pre-amplifiers for the sonar system, and a Propulsion Power Board based around the VICOR V24A12C400BL voltage regulator

Software Features

SubmURSA’s software subsystem is comprised of different modules, each module is responsible for one of the following tasks: mission planning, navigation, vision, sonar, and graphical display/remote control.
For more information check out SubmURSA's journal paper!

Bearacuda

Overview

Bearacuda was the first robot to represent ARVP in the RoboSub competition.

Mechanical Features

Bearacuda’s 6061-T6 aluminum hulls were designed for component positioning that increased the distance between the center of mass and the center of buoyancy, which led to better stability of the robot. Two separate battery hulls were designed as a safety feature to protect the main electronics from potential battery failure. Bearacuda’s propulsion is powered by six Seabotix BTD150 thrusters arranged around all of the major axes of the vehicle to provide 5 degrees of freedom.

Electrical Features

Bearacuda featured a custom main board, Roboteq AX500 motor controllers to drive the thrusters, Ocean Server’s OS5500 combination inertial measurement unit, and four SQ26R1 hydrophones with built-in pre-amplifier for the sonar system.

Software Features

The software for Bearacuda was designed to be as modular as possible. It utilizes a framework called "DisCo" which was developed in the Department of Computing Science at the University
of Alberta, with the goal of providing a unified communication framework between components in robotics systems.
For more information check out Bearacuda's journal paper!

Ursa Minor

Overview

Ursa Minor represented ARVP at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition in 2006, and Ursa Minor marked a major improvement in the team’s overall organization. As a result of this, the robot was capable of both indoor and outdoor use and had an improved drivetrain and reliability over its 2005 counterpart.

Mechanical Features

Ursa Minor uses its predecessor, Ursa Major, as a base. A tub chassis with a single caster pivot point featuring a riveted honeycomb composite panel construction was used for the frame. The motor housing attached to the hub contained two 24V permanent magnet motors coupled to planetary gearboxes with 25:1 reduction. This configuration allowed for a low part count, as well as ease of access, while providing enough torque for climbing a 23-degree incline while carrying a 20-pound payload.

Electrical Features

Ursa Minor featured a motherboard and daughterboard configuration, commands were sent from an MC68332 microcontroller (motherboard) to a Roboteq AX2850 dual-channel DC motor controller (daughterboard). The Roboteq AX2850 replaced a custom H-bridge-based motor driver boards used on Ursa Minor’s predecessor. Ursa Minor also had voice feedback warning systems for high temperature and low voltage alerts.

Software Features

Most of Ursa Minor’s testing was performed on the Gazebo simulation platform to simulate its movements and geometry. URSA Minor’s software systems build on the Hazard-Oriented Obstacle Detector (HOOD) created from scratch in 2004 for the Kodiak platform. One important feature that was added in 2006 to meet the design goal of testing facilitation is the HOOD Log of Unified Messages (HOODLUM).
For more information check out Ursa Minor's journal paper!

Ursa Major

Overview

Ursa Major was ARVP’s ambitious robot design in 2005. Unfortunately, due to a lack of reliability and travel costs, Ursa Major was unable to go to the competition in 2005. However, Ursa Major served as a base platform for the design of its successor, Ursa Minor, which was ARVP’s most successful robot in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition.

Kodiak

Overview

Kodiak represented ARVP at the annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition from 2002 - 2004. It took the Bear Cub as a base and improved on various aspects from year to year.
Kodiak was designed to be versatile, yet simple with the ability to navigate rough terrains like steep slopes and stairs. Even with this capability, Kodiak was small enough to pass through a doorway.

2002 - Initial Design

Mechanical Features

Kodiak uses a mild carbon steel frame that houses two-track subassemblies containing the drive motors and worm gear reduction drivetrain components with tank tread design.

Electrical and Software Features

Much like its predecessors, Kodiak was equipped with a Sony Handicam for image capture, a Motorola 68332 microcontroller, an onboard PC (Fujitsu Lifebook with a 500MHz Intel Celeron CPU, 128 MB RAM, and Debian Linux as its operating system), and GPS capability. The SONAR array was capable of detection in a 60-degree field.

2003 - MK 2

Mechanical Features and Improvements

In 2003, Kodiak’s body was redesigned, as fibreglass and carbon fibre were integrated into a sleek design. The vehicle’s top speed and acceleration increased to 2.33 mph (3.75kph) and 0.15G (1.5 m/s^2).

Electrical and Software Features and Improvements

SONAR array increased to produce a complete 90-degree field of view up to 32.8’ (10m) ahead of the robot and the one camera system was updated to become a three-camera system.

2004 - MK 3

Mechanical Features and Improvements

In 2004, outside of the self-contained propulsion packages, all the components in Kodiak were redesigned, namely a simplification of the suspension and functional vehicle body. NiMH Panasonic batteries replaced lead-acid batteries which reduced battery weight without reducing the battery capacity and also allowed for direct motor powering.

Electrical and Software Features and Improvements

A Sick LMS-291 laser scanner replaced the 9 element SONAR array and improved the angular resolution and obstacle mapping to up to 30m away. A new software system and user interface were developed, the Hazard Oriented Object Detector (HOOD) was the new system architecture that features a simple user interface that facilitates on the fly parameter changes useful for vision and calibration. A digital compass and inertial measurement were added to complement the existing video cameras, shaft encoders, and differential GPS unit.
For more information check out Kodiak's journal papers!

Bear Cub

Overview

Bear Cub was originally designed as an indoor testing platform for Polar Bear but stepped up to represent ARVP at the 9th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition in 2001. It had many of the same design philosophies of Polar Bear, as ARVP strived to create a versatile robot that was reliable and rugged.

Mechanical Features

Each of Bear Cub’s wheels was independently driven by four Matsushita 24 VDC motors packaged with inline 45:1 gearboxes with skid-steering capabilities. Two 75 Amp-hour, 12 VDC sealed gel cell batteries (in series) provide the power necessary to drive the four motors. All components are fastened to a tubular, mild carbon and stainless steel frame for strength and durability.

Electrical Features

Bear Cub is equipped with an MPC68332 microcontroller, four NCC 70 DC motor controllers, and a GPS system. Vision is provided through a CCD-TRV87 Sony Handicam, a WinTV video capture card and an Intel Celeron 366MHz CPU, which operates with 320MB of RAM. A custom SONAR array uses six transducers to cover a 60º arc directly in front of the Bear Cub and is capable of accurately detecting an object up to 10m away by using digital circuitry.

Software Features

Complex motion on Bear Cub was achieved by 3 control loops, the first two control loops are responsible for ensuring that the wheels all turn at the desired velocity, and the final control loop ensures that the left and right wheels are turning at a constant rate regardless of external factors. The obstacle avoidance AI works by receiving data from the SONAR and vision systems, it then stores the physical location of these shapes in terms of individual line segments. The AI then determines how far it can move in one direction before it has to turn, this calculation is updated every 1-3 meters.
To assist in the testing of Bear Cub, ARVP also developed a custom UI that displayed the data from the vision algorithm and allowed for control over the motor drivers.
For more information check out Bear Cub's journal paper!

Polar bear

Overview

Designed with simplicity and ruggedness in mind, ARVP’s first robot Polar Bear was a powerful vehicle which could be easily modified or repaired in remote locations. The Polar Bear's sturdy construction, its rugged electronics and adaptable software make it an ideal platform for the development of outdoor mobile robotics. In 2000, the University of Alberta was given a Canadian Defence Industrial Research grant to pursue the use of Polar Bear in semi-automated equipment transportation roles for oilfield and defence applications.

Mechanical Features

Polar Bear was equipped with four independently suspended hydraulic drive motors for flexibility and skid steering capability, a four-stroke Robin V2 EH6 engine, a mild carbon steel frame, and shock absorbers with custom helical springs that provided 900 pounds of carrying capacity.

Electrical Features

Polar Bear’s electrical system consisted of a PC, a Motorola MPC555 microcontroller, four solenoid drivers for the Polar Bear’s hydraulic subsystem, six Polaroid Sound Navigation And Ranging (SONAR) units, and one Sony HandyCam camcorder. The electrical system also sported a common ground to reduce electromagnetic interference.

Software Features

Polar Bear's high-level controller design centers around an Artificial Neural Network (ANN), running on the open-source Debian Linux operating system. The Polar Bear's ANN control system approximates an obstacle course navigation function using a train-by-example approach. The training of the ANN was done through simulations.
For more information check out Polar Bear's journal paper!
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