Radio Control of an Arduino Vehicle and Robot Arm

Originally two separate projects - an Arduino Vehicle and a Robot Arm - students Robert Hallett, Brandon Flynn, Peter Conley, Mike Maloney, Aaron Mitchell and Eric Jang were encouraged to all work together by instructor Joe Marriott to further the learning experience. They joined the vehicle with the robot arm and installed a camera as well. Students learned how to control an Arduino vehicle using traditional radio-control (RC) technology, control a robot arm installed on the vehicle and investigate First-Person View (FPV) camera applications with the vehicle.

RC operators are typically used to fly hobby helicopters, for example, but in this case students used it to control a different kind of vehicle. “It’s just a set of tires with a motor controller,” said student Aaron Mitchell. “It’s a neat concept. It’s an old radio frequency communications system that’s now working with some newer technology and actually getting a lot of neat results.” They began by interpreting those signals to find out how to make it work within the confines of this non-standard vehicle.

The goal was to be able to drive the machine around and use the camera and the arm in a useful way. Bomb disposal is one possible application for this project. “We see robots [like] the Mars lander or bomb disposal robots which are very high-tech and very expensive… and we say, well can we do it? We’re jokingly calling this our bomb disposal robot because it does have all the features of the real thing: it’s fully remote controlled, we control the arm, we have remote vision, we can drive this into a building and see where we’re going. …[W]e're teaching students that they can do this type of work,” said instructor Joe Marriott.