R2 Robotics is a team of French students in Aerospace Engineering at ISAE-SUPAERO, the French graduate school of Aeronautics and Space. They develop and build autonomous robots to compete for the next edition of the French Eurobot Contest in May 2017. More than 175 teams participated in the 2016 edition; the majority of the 1500 contestants are students in computer science, automotive or robotics. The two best French teams and one team that is awarded a special prize are selected to take part in the International Eurobot Open contest to compete again with the best teams from more than ten countries. The theme for this year is the "Moon Village". During the matches, two teams compete with one or two robots each. The robots are fully autonomous and have 90 seconds to perform as many actions as they can in order to gain points: collect "Moon minerals", move and install "Moon modules", etc...
Competition is tough, this is why R2 Robotics has chosen to develop an innovative concept using three omnidirectional wheels to drive their main robot. A design with 3 steerable drive wheels allows for quicker accelerations and shorter braking distances. Each of the three wheels is driven by a Maxon brushless DC motor combined with a spur gearhead. The R2 Robotics team is pleased with the result, as the motors each provide 50W of power within a reasonable footprint, which makes them ideal to fit inside the robot.
The wheel base is being assembled and will soon be operational. Most of the mechanical parts are 3D printed using a high-quality Leapfrog Creator HS printer, which makes manufacturing more responsive and flexible: any part can be made within the day.
Electronics & software
The electronics board designed by the team integrates three Maxon ESCON 24/2 controllers. The guidelines issued by Maxon Motor have been useful to ensure that the board provides the motors with safe and reliable electrical power. The onboard computer is a Raspberry Pi 3 and the robot is programmed using the open-source framework ROS (Robotic OS). The source code as well as the CAD and the PCB files of the robot will be released under Open Source licence after the Eurobot Contest. The software is under development and the team is confident in having their autonomous robot ready for May 2017.