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Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center

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The first one is coming to an end project shift in Sirius Educational Center Usually educational shifts are held here, where school students prepare for all-Russian and world-level Olympiads.For example, A team of mathematicians before the world Olympiad held a training camp in "Sirius".In the future it is planned to make this place one of the main centers of attraction of talented youth for further integration into the high-tech projects which are on the special account of the state.
ITMO University team , in addition to its extensive involvement in nanotechnology-related projects, worked with school students on several robotics projects.Our group consisted of 19 students and 3 teachers. We identified in advance the main technologies and design features that would be implemented during the project. Some projects are focused on the automation of certain processes, and some have more of a creative visual component. As a basis for the creation of robots it was decided to use the robotic designer TRIC Here already published examples of of using this constructor.
Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center
From the beginning, we tried to divide students into groups based on programming and construction skills. We used a project management system to organize the work Trello Since we had two and a half weeks to work on projects, the rest was spent on entertainment and organizational activities, and the number of tasks was limited, Trello suited us just fine. Every three days we got together with the guys and set tasks for the new sprint. This is not to say that this was done according to all the canons of development in serious companies, but we were able to introduce the basics of project management to the guys. Now on to the projects themselves.
The first project has to do with human-robot interaction, both in terms of designing a pleasing robot appearance and in terms of human communication and attention retention. First, the guys figured out how to use speech recognition technology. To do this, they used Yandex SpeechKit. which allows you to http-request to get in response variants of the recognized text, in descending order of probability of correct recognition. On the controller itself TRIC is unix system, and the developers have provided in the system the ability to convert text into speech. For this purpose the system has a speech synthesizer eSpeak which voices the desired text.
The main program was implemented in Qt Script in TRIK Studio supported by the developers of the constructor, and the part with the transfer of the audio file to the Yandex servers is implemented via bash script. Accordingly, it is necessary to transfer the information from the linux workspace to the memory area of the program in Qt Script, this was done through an additional file. In general, the robot can record your speech, send the file for recognition and say the phrases that are prescribed in the general database of queries and answers, or perform certain actions.
The next task was to program the robot’s movements. The robot turns its eyes in the direction of the interlocutor, attracting his attention. At the voice command, the robot can grab objects with its manipulator. The robot has two controllers on board: the first controls the movement of the wheels, takes information from microphones and sensors; the second transmits video images from the camera, controls the manipulator and eye movements, lights the LED strip during the pronunciation of the text. There are many tasks of synchronizing programs on different controllers, and all parts of the project are connected to each other via TCP/IP. For example, on one unit the pronunciation of a text must be accompanied by a mouth animation, and on the other unit the LED strip must be switched on.
The technical vision of the robot is taken to a separate computer, where OpenCV is used for this purpose. First the image is binarized, then the gradient is determined, nested contours are removed, and objects are selected according to geometric size and area. This makes it possible to determine the position of objects on the table, direct the robot to them and grab them with the manipulator. All of the tasks described are solved on different devices, and the guys were fully confronted with the networking and successfully coped with this task. A presentation of the project can be seen at link
Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center
The second project is a robot that erases from a whiteboard. In this project we have a marker board and a two-wheeled robot that can move around on it. The first robot drives up and stands in front of the board. It has a camera on it, the image from which is transmitted via TRIC to a computer, where the image is processed and the robot’s location and target is determined. The robot has orange and yellow markers on it to determine the location of the robot. First we highlight all the yellow and orange pixels in the image, then we identify the largest solid areas of these colors and find their centers, from which we can determine the coordinates and rotation angle of the robot. Next, we find the Laplacian of the image and leave only the red and highlighted areas that need to be cleared. By running through the whole image again, we find the closest point to the robot, which becomes the target.
Only the distance and the angle between the course of the robot and the direction to the target are sent to the erasing robot. From these values the control actions for the motors are calculated and the robot moves towards the target.
Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center
This project also includes the robot poloter. When it receives a message from the first robot, it drives forward over a predetermined distance and moves through a predetermined area, rotating the cleaning element underneath it. When time runs out, the robot begins to turn around its axis and searches for the orange marker. Once found, it starts moving in the direction of the marker until it occupies a significant area in the camera image. In this case, image processing is done entirely on the robot, it only receives the command to start. A presentation of the project can be seen at link , and more video of work
Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center
The third project refers to the automation of the parking space. The goal was to create a prototype for an automated public parking lot at the business center. Two four-wheel drive vehicles were assembled, a building was constructed and the parking spaces themselves were tagged (black circles). The parking system consisted of a controller, a webcam connected to it and a barrier.
The controller has a DSP core designed to process audio and video on board, but since the project participants had no experience programming controllers, it was decided to just broadcast the video and process the parking lot status on the computer.
To determine free parking spaces, the image was binarized by selecting contours and discarding unnecessary elements along the radius of the circle. The last step was clustering with numbering.
In the end, the working system looked like this :
The car drives up to the barrier, sends a request to the server, which in turn returns the number of the nearest free space, and also tells the parking system that the barrier must be raised. Then the car, having the number of parking space, moves along the recorded path. A presentation of the project can be seen at link
All the source codes of the programs are at github
Project shift at the Sirius Educational Center
Overall, it worked out quite well. The students kept asking to stay late and spend more time working on the project, which shows the students’ interest in robotics.
All the projects of the shift were divided into engineering, where work was done on the implementation of a particular design, and research, where data on various phenomena were collected and analyzed. In my opinion, in the final evaluation it is worth separating such areas, it is difficult to compare the analysis of the Mzymta River and the "Smart Table". For researches the presentation and poster format is more suitable, and for the projects the exhibition format with stands is better.
Those wishing to take part in such shifts, it is worth considering a prior scrupulous study of the area in which they want to participate. There are a huge number of video lecture courses and other accompanying material for this purpose. Learn how to use the various project management systems (you can start with the one you have, that we used ) and version control systems.
Thank you so much to all the participants of this shift, its organizers and teachers. I hope to be here more than once!

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