Feasibility of developing academic laboratories using a low-cost robot
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The objective of this research was to investigate the feasibility of developing new academic laboratories for an introductory robotics course at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) using low-cost commercially-available robots. In particular, this research used a desktop computer with Fedora 8 Linux operating system, a wireless network and the Garcia robot from Acroname Incorporated. The Garcia robot is a wheeled robot that has many onboard devices, such as encoders, infrared sensors, and a laser range finder with the capability of further expansion. The investigation of the feasibility of developing laboratories using a low-cost commercially-available robot yielded mixed results. The positive results were that a lowcost robot, the Garcia, was found to be a flexible and powerful academic tool. The Garcia robot allowed for the development and implementation of a collection of laboratories to ensure that basic robotic functions are understood. The drawbacks were that the Garcia robot was difficult to start due to the lack of proper documentation. Also, the selected host configuration limited the Garcia's performance because the configuration injected an initial latency of 15 to 20 seconds. The latency was noted when communicating with the robot and the laser simultaneously.
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