Design and construction of Meercat : an autonomous indoor and outdoor courier service robot.
This project details the construction and development of, and experimentation with a mobile service courier robot named Meercat. This robot has been built from the ground up using parts sourced from various places. The application for this service robot is the delivery of internal mail parcels between the buildings situated on the campus of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. To achieve this, the robot has to be able to localise and navigate through indoor office and laboratory environments and over outdoor tarred roads which interconnect the various buildings. Not many robots are intended for operation in both indoor and outdoor environments, and to achieve this, multiple sensing systems are implemented on the platform, where the correct selection of sensing inputs is a key aspect. Further testing and experiments will take place with algorithms for localisation and navigation. As a limited budget was available for the development of this robot, cost-effective solutions had to be found for the mechanical, sensing and computation needs. The Mechatronics group from the Mechatronics and Micro Manufacturing (MMM) competency area at the CSIR is involved with the development of various autonomous mobile robots. The particular robot developed in this project will be an addition to the CSIR’s current fleet of robots and will be used as a stepping stone for experimentation with new sensors and electronics, and the development of further positioning and navigation algorithms.
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