Facilities

Multi-agent cooperative testbed

ACCESS lab hosts a multi-agent cooperative testbed which is dedicated to conduct a cross-disciplinary research on control and coordination of large-scale systems of autonomous systems. The testbed consists of several autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) which are of different capabilities. Also, there is an accurate infrared based VICON motion capturing system for localization. With this testbed, ACCESS lab is aiming at developing tools, techniques and design methods that are required for modeling, control, testing and evaluation of large-scale systems of systems and multi-robot systems.

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Edquad Quadcopter UAVs
There are three Edquads in the ACCESS which are very robust quadcopter platforms. Edquads are equipped with an AutoQuad flight controller, different sensors and measurement devices including Gyro, GPS receiver, Magnetometer, Accelerometer, Pressure sensor, and Battery monitor. We use CrossWorks IDE to compile its control algorithm in C/C. The structure of the control code is implemented using an Adaptive Task Scheduling Algorithm and supports preemptive priority and round-robin to manage different tasks and events.

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Turtlebot Ground Robots
There are 6 Turtlebot robots which are equipped with a Kinect Sensor. The robots run ROS (Robot Operating System), and are supported by various ROS libraries (stacks).

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AR.Drone UAVS
There are 10 AR.Drones in the ACCESS lab that are used for the preliminary implementation of the developed algorithms. AR.Drones are easy to work, radio controlled flying quadcopter helicopters that can be controlled through laptops via WiFi.

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Ground Station
To monitor the performance of robots in the aforementioned multi-robot testbed, a custom version of QGroundControl based on the MAVLink 1.0 protocol is utilized which can be easily extended to a multi-agent system. This software can show the position, orientation, and velocity of each agent in the global frame, which helps to verify the developed algorithms for multi-agent systems.

Smart Farming Robotic Platform

The ACCESS lab hosts a smart farming robotic platform including several agricultural UAV and UGVs equipped with required sensory tools which are detailed as follows:

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Aero-M fix-wing Agri-UAV
There are two Aero-M fix-wing Agri-UAV at the ACCESS lab, which platform offer 40 minute flight endurance which can cover a farm of 250 acres. This fix-wing UAV is equipped with a Canon S100 high-resolution 12 MP camera that can regularly acquire highly detailed and actionable data for large-scale operations such as farming. The data can be collected with the ground sampling distance of at least 2 inches per pixel and the Orthomosaic accuracy of at least 3-16 ft. The collected images then can be processed by Pix4Dmapper LT 3DR Edition software which is a capable tool to create highly accurate, georeferenced and orthorectified mosaics.

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X8-M Agri-UAV
There are two X8-M VTOL agri-UAVs at the ACCESS Lab. Since X8-M platform can fly and hover at a lower altitude and slower speeds, it can provide aerial maps with a higher resolution. It has a redundant propulsion system which will be used for implementation of our resilient control structure. In addition, the X8-M can take off and land in tight areas, which makes it suitable for different terrains particularly farms.

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Husky Agri-UGVs
The ACCESS lab hosts one Husky robot as a capable agricultural Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV). This UGV is engineered to thrive in harsh outdoor environments such as farms. It has four high-torque motors and rugged all-terrain tires suitable for challenging terrains and filed robotic experiments. We will use open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) to program this robot for complex autonomous farming missions. Its payload is 75 Kg, maximum speed 2.3 mph, and is equipped with GPS, IMU, Lidar and encoders for autonomous control. With its flexible payload mounting, easy to access on-board power and reconfigurable I/O, it is possible to upgrade/change this platform based on our needs for this project. Husky is designed with a scalable and open architecture making it the ideal platform for testing and developing multi-robot agricultural systems.

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Pix4Dmapper
The collected images will be processed by Pix4Dmapper LT 3DR Edition software which is a fully automatic mapping and modeling solution. The software can convert and join thousands of images to highly accurate, georeferenced and orthorectified 2D mosaics.

Other facilities

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Two-DOF Helicopter
The 2 DOF Helicopter system is a simplified helicopter model, which is used to develop and implement advanced control algorithms for helicopters as complex flight control systems. This 2-DOF Helicopter workstation is equipped with a Q8-USB Data Acquisition Board and the Quanser Real-Time Control Software and software. This experiment set uses a high quality slip-ring mechanism at the base which allows infinite continuous rotations possible in any direction. This opens the door into much more effective studying of topics such as integrator wind-up, overshoot, disturbance rejection and more. We use this 2-DOF Helicopter Workstation to verify and test the developed control algorithms and conduct pre-flight experiments.

Software

X-Plane Simulator: X-Plane is a comprehensive and powerful flight simulator for personal computers consisting of realistic flight models, which can be used as an engineering tool to predict the flying qualities of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft with incredible accuracy. X-Plane contains subsonic and supersonic flight dynamics, allowing users to predict the flight characteristics of aerial vehicles in different modes. Through the plugin interface, users can create external modules that extend the X-Plane interface, flight model or create new features.

AeroSIM RC Simulation software: AeroSIM RC simulator is a computer program that is used to train pilots of radio-controlled aircraft in ACCESS lab to practice on a computer, without the risk and expense of a damaging a real model.

Pix4Dmapper: The collected images will be processed by Pix4Dmapper LT 3DR Edition software which is a fully automatic mapping and modeling solution. The software can convert and join thousands of images to highly accurate, georeferenced and orthorectified 2D mosaics.

LabView: Labview is a software development environment and a visual programming language from National Instruments which is used as a system-design and platform and an integration tool in ACCESS lab.

Matlab/Simulink: The MATLAB software and Simulink are extensively used in ACCESS lab for developing and simulating different control algorithms.

Robotic Club

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The Robotic Club, advised by Dr. Karimoddini, has been established in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of North Carolina A&T University to involve the undergraduate and graduate students in robotic and prepare them for advanced research on aerial and ground robots. Students in the Robotic Club have the opportunity to touch different stages of developing the hardware and software parts of different robots. The Robotic Club is also planning to participate in nation-wide robotic contests, to give the students the chance of getting familiar with cutting-edge research in robotics and getting to know their future colleagues. This will also help them to obtain novel idea to extend their work and initiate collaborative work with others. Furthermore, the Robotic Club programs assists the Department of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering with identifying talented students in these areas and recruits them for graduate studies by providing them with competitive scholarship offers. This would also promote our nation-wide and international collaborations in both academic and industrial scopes.