Mariobots: A Lab-Based Course on Autonomous Driving Robots

Pejman, Peyman, Computer Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Dugan, Joanne, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Virginia

The use of robots in the Computer Engineering department of the University of Virginia has been increasing in recent years due to their effectiveness in teaching fundamental system design and programming concepts in an entirely engaging and hands-on way. The Mariobots class takes advantage of a graphical dataflow programming paradigm to develop an autonomous robot. National Instrument’s LabVIEW is the programming language of choice and myRIO is the processing unit controlling the iRobot Create. Six labs were designed to familiarize students with various Computer Engineering concepts such as signal processing, control systems, and pathfinding algorithms. The labs are tightly connected and are building blocks of an autonomous driving robot. Therefore, the labs serve as milestones toward an ultimate goal. Students begin the course by learning the fundamentals of dataflow programming. Due to the continuous nature of the labs, students are able to receive feedback on the algorithms and systems they design each session. As a result, they have the chance to improve upon their approach since almost each lab becomes an essential part of the Mariobot’s behavior as the course progresses. This thesis is a compilation of the six labs that were created, including relevant background information, detailed concept explanation, and hints to possible approaches and solutions.

MS (Master of Science)
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