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Trinity’s Alvin VI



Trinity College in Hartford, CT is a relatively small liberal arts school yet it has a renowned engineering program known for attracting some of the best and the brightest students globally. Trinity’s students are involved in a variety of robot challenges in addition to the famous Trinity Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest (see page 80). The Alvin VI was built to compete in the 2005 annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), which is organized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The event is somewhat akin to a miniature DARPA Challenge.

Firewire Webcams (2) with adjustable mounts, Honeywell digital compass, IMS 3424 stepper motors (2) with IM1007 controllers and Bayside Controls 10:1 gearboxes, Low-weight body with aluminum frame and chassis, Sonar array, 75V SLA power supply, National Instruments Compact Fieldpoint System with Compact Vision Processor and CFP control processor, Software development in LabView , Light racing wheels with alloy rims and racing wheelchair hubs, Not Shown: Thales submeter differential GPS

We asked Professor Dave Ahlgren to tell us a little about the Alvin VI. “The Alvin VI is capable of autonomously navigating through an outdoor obstacle course. It can drive accurately between two lines and at the same time avoid potholes, traps, traffic barricades, nylon net fences and other vehicles on the road. It is equipped with a GPS navigation system, which it uses to find waypoints on the course. The vision system and sonar sensor array allow the robot to see obstacles and lines in advance and plan its path accordingly. It uses a differential drive system powered by IMS stepper motors.”

What were some of the challenges and rewards of this competition? “The technical challenges are among the most interesting and it has been great to see our students field a truly competitive robot—we took 4th in the GPS Autonomous Navigation Challenge out of 26 registered robots, and 11th in the Autonomous Vehicle Challenge. We look forward to competing in the 14th annual IGVC competition that will be held at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Harrison Township, MI, June 10 – 12, 2006. If any companies whish to be involved as sponsors, please feel free to contact me at dahlgren@trincoll.edu.”

Look to a future issue of ROBOT for highlights of the next IGVC contest.—the editors