Whiteboard Erasing Robot using Arduino

My entry for the Microcontroller contest is a whiteboard cleaning robot. The goal of this project was to create a robot which could erase written text on a whiteboard completely autonomously, i.e. no human interface. The processes involved in this project included devising a method for the robot to search a whiteboard for text, designing a way to physically move a robot to the text, and enabling a robot to erase the text.

Step 1: Parts/System Break Down

This project is made up of two main sections. The first section is the actual robot. The robot in theory is somewhat simple. It consists of a base with two wheels which rides on a whiteboard track. The base design allows the robot to cover the entire x-axis of the whiteboard. To move on the y-axis, the robot uses linear sliders to move an arm up and down. Attached to the end of the arm is a dry-eraser that does the actual erasing.

Building the robot is not hard.  It just consists of 2 motors which each respectively drive 2 small VEX wheels.

Step 2: Computer Vision

The second section, and more complicated part of the project, is the webcam and computer base control station located opposite the whiteboard. Utilizing an standard webcam and vision software at the computer base station, the robot locates any text anywhere on the whiteboard. It does this by using a series of filters and processing functions within the vision software, RoboRealm. In RoboRealm I used many different filters to find the center-of-gravity of the text on the whiteboard. The center of gravity cannot be found based on just the webcam image. I first used a RGB filter to eliminate everything but the green writing. Then the color is inverted by a Negative filter. The image is then converted from the Negative image ( the pink “hello”) to black and white using a gray-scale filter. This is necessary because the center of gravity can only be found on a black and white image. Then a center-of-gravity module is used to find the center of gravity. RoboRealm is a great software that has many uses and features. To find out more about the software go to www.RoboRealm.com

Arduino Whiteboard Erasing Robot

*The code that is attached is a basic proof of concept code.  It shows how the eraser would move to the text, no matter where it is on the whiteboard.  Move your mouse to simulate where the text is written.  In order to use the code, you need a copy of RoboRealm.  The standard cost is $89, or you can download a 30-day free trial at http://www.roborealm.com/registration/index.php


Major Components in Project

Parts Included:
Arduino Mega
Arduino Mega Protoshield, with 2 mini breadboards and jumpers
3 VEX motors
BlueSmirf Bluetooth Adapter (located in the yellow VEX case with antenna)
RoboRealm Vision Software
VEX linear sliders
VEX Rack and Pinion gears
VEX 9.6V Battery
4 VEX small wheels
Vex metal, screws, etc.

For more detail: Whiteboard Erasing Robot using Arduino

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