High Endurance and Sustainable Marine Mechatronic Systems Design

1. Intelligence Counter-Terrorism Solar Three-Wheeled robot for Ground Surveillance

 The deadly terrorist attacks of September 11 served as a wake-up call to all nation, specifically to scientists and engineers. Grief soon gave way to action as the worldwide insitiution began turning their attention to ways to protect the country against future attacks. Question such as : How can the safety at the car parks in airports-and in all public spaces-be improved?


Car bombs have been a favorite terrorist tool. A car bomb near an apartment building at Profsoyuznaya Street in Moscow was discovered and later removed by local agency on the same day. Exploring ways to inspect parking lots are important. A 5-inches tall, three-wheeled robot powered by solar enegy for ground Surveillance allows an operator to inspect the underbelly of cars by means of remotely or autonomously (through external sensors). Mobile wheels allow the robot to turn and travel in any direction. Armed with a wireless camera, the device streams video back to remote control operator for real-time viewing and analysis.   The advantages of the Solar cells are long lasting sources of energy which can be used almost anywhere where there is no national grid or electrical power supply is available. 


Robot structure consists of a three-wheeled platform driven by two 12V DC servo motors positioned at the back of the robot with no steering associated at the front wheel. The wheels are made from aluminum wrapped by contoured rubber strips to provide sufficient grip on the ground.


Photovoltaic solar panel

When both wheels of the robot turn, the robot moves straight. While the DC motor on the left (right) turns, the robot moves to the right (left).  When both wheels of the robot turn, the robot moves straight. While the DC motor on the left (right) turns, the robot moves to the right (left). The robot is powered by a solar system consisting of a photovoltaic solar panel, a charge controller and a 14.5V, 18000mA.h battery. The DC servo motors are driven by a 10A motor driver which is controlled by a microcontroller.


To enable the robot to move in autonomous mode, external sensors are interfaced to the microcontroller. For examples, the distance of the obstacles can be detected by four ultrasonic sensors positioned at the front, the sides and the back of the robot. The heading of the robot is measured and feedback via an electronic compass. To provide manual control at remote distance, user can control the robot through radio frequency. Transmitter with joystick feature and four channels receiver are used.


The ground surveillance is accomplished through a 2.4 GHz wireless camera/video system that transmits video and images to the user LCD screen. To combine the autonomous and remote control features, a handheld controller with joysticks and LCD screen are designed.


 2. A Smart Solar Tracker

A cost effective active single axis solar tracker that is able to follow the sun and ease for mounting on the wall or rooftop is presented. The tracking algorithm consists of a closed loop dynamic feedback system that uses microcontroller and LDR sensors. Energy saving is the first design priority in this system, which implies that, within a good accuracy, the sun is not constantly tracked to prevent energy consumed by the motor, and the system will be in 'sleep' mode when the night falls. The design and with two LDR sensors realize the single axis sunlight tracker for PV applications.  Computer modeling is used to predict the efficiency over the fixed solar panel under heat losses due to conduction, wind and friction due to moving parts. The experimental testing shows agreement with the compute model. This provides useful information for improving efficiency of the solar tracker before actual implementation.


Nowadays, there are many types of solar tracker in the market as there are single axis, dual-axis, active and passive trackers. In order for these trackers to sustain in the market, thus the tracker must be designed to meet the user's requirement. For instance, those countries without four different seasons in a year and has lesser climate fluctuation as Malaysia. Therefore, the optimum solar tracker shall be a single-axis solar tracker. Anyway, a low cost single-axis solar tracker will be designed for higher efficiency and will be discussed in this project.  


Basically, there are four matters that must take into consideration in building a desired solar tracker as shown below: (1) Cost; (2) Reliability - Material and structure design; (3) Efficiency - Mechanism and circuit design and (4) Accuracy - Sensor positioning. Generally, cost will be the main component that to be considered for the commencement of a project. In order to produce a low cost solar tracker, material being used must be appropriate to structure design that will lead to higher reliability and life span of the tracker. Besides, mechanism and circuit design as the moving section and controlling section of the tracker must have good response time and efficiency, besides it must be simplified to reduce the maintenance cost in the future. Lastly, for sensor positioning where the sensor must be placed at the proper location on the tracker to increase the accuracy that the tracker will be facing to the light source perpendicularly at all times.


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