An Integrated Approach for Teaching Robotics based on the Development of Low-Cost Parallel Robots

An Integrated Approach for Teaching Robotics based on the Development of Low-Cost Parallel Robots

Alexandre Kawano (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Eduardo Aoun Tannuri (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Jun Okamoto (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Marcos Ribeiro Pereira Barreto (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Newton Maruyama (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Ricardo Cury Ibrahim (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Tarcisio-Antonio Hess-Coelho (The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0291-5.ch007
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Abstract

From the academia viewpoint, the process of qualifying engineering students demands they acquire a deep understanding of basic sciences and technological aspects. On the other hand, it is quite a challenge to keep them motivated throughout their graduation period. Taking into account these issues, an integrated approach for teaching can provide good results. Basically, the way that such integration might be accomplished requires a single project per period. In addition, the disciplines taken by the students in a specific period should provide them the necessary background to conclude that project. Focusing on teaching robotics, this chapter describes the authors’ experience with mechatronics engineering students in the 7th-period of their graduation.
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Introduction

During the last ten years, thanks to the efforts of companies, universities, and research institutes, a great number of technological innovations have arisen. In fact, one can mention, for instance, the Big Dog (Boston Dynamics, 2008), the robotic mule; the Adept Quattro (Adept Technology Inc., 2010), the fattest pick-and-place robot ever made; the Da Vinci surgical system (Intuitive Surgical, 2011); the humanoid Asimo (Honda, 2011). Moreover, by admiring the kinetic sculptures from Theo Jansen (2011) that walk on the wind, we can also recognize the presence of the mechanisms in Art.

Among the reasons that influenced the achievements of such innovations, the qualification of the engineering team involved in the development process (Cavacece, Pennestri, & Sinatra, 2005; Fraczek & Wojtyra, 2005) has certainly played a significant role.

From the academia viewpoint, the process of qualifying engineering students demands they acquire a deep understanding of basic sciences and technological aspects. On the other hand, it is quite a challenge to keep them motivated throughout their graduation period once they have to accomplish a great number of assignments and projects.

With these issues in mind, the authors believe that an integrated approach for teaching can provide good results. Basically, the way that such integration might be accomplished requires a single project per period. In addition, the disciplines taken by the students in a specific period should provide them the necessary background to conclude that project.

Focusing on teaching robotics, this chapter describes our experience with mechatronics engineering students in the 7th-period of their graduation. The main courses whose subjects are integrated through the period project are “mechanisms for automation,” “actuator drives for mechatronics,” “microprocessors for automation and robotics,” and “control and automation” and “programming for automation.”

Regarding the project themes, the development of low-cost parallel robots represents a stimulating challenge for the students. In fact, this type of complex robotic architecture demonstrates some advantages in a comparison with serial structures, namely, the ability to perform fast motions, modular construction, lightness, and high load capacity.

The following chapter sections deal with an overview of our current engineering curricula and the topics that are taught in the above mentioned courses. Additionally, it is described in detail the period-project themes, the development process, the obtained results, the employed methods, the computational tools, facilities and other resources available.

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