NZ universities conduct research with Segway Robotics Mobility Platform

New Zealand universities first began using Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) for research purposes in 2004, when the Mechatronics Department of Massey University purchased an i167 model. This was the same year this university began a program of deploying Segway PTs for security patrols, starting with an e167 model for the Palmerston North campus then deploying i170 and i180 models at Albany over the next couple of years.

In Auckland, the Mechanical Engineering Department at Auckland University purchased an i180 and p133 model for research in 2006, and have been using these for a variety of research projects since then (yes, of course this included mounting laser gun in the name of science).

While these efforts have been based around modifying a standard Personal Transporter, Segway, Inc. also offers a variety of dedicated, open Robotics Mobility Platforms (RMPs) that are suitable for a wide range of research and deployment purposes. Both statically balanced and dynamically balanced configurations are available, and researchers can from choose two, three and four wheel models – as well as an omni-directional model.

In 2012 Victoria University (Wellington) purchased a Segway Robotics Mobility Platform for a Masters of Engineering research program to create an autonomous robot that could navigate around an environment. In the introduction to the paper that resulted from the project, engineer Douglas James Ormiston Thomson explains why the Segway RMP was chosen:

1.0 Introduction

A Segway RMP200 has been obtained by Victoria University of Wellington to be used as a platform on which to develop an autonomous robot. The Segway RMP200 platform is a two wheel differential drive system capable of dynamic stabilisation. Dynamic stabilisation is the ability to balance a payload above two wheels, similar to an inverted pendulum.

The Segway platform was purchased to extend the mobility capability existing at Victoria. The current platform of the MARVIN robot is limited by its current motors and the small wheels limit the platform’s operating environment (such as traversing the gap while entering certain elevators within the university). These restrictions prohibit outdoor operation. The Segway platform has greater flexibility and ability to move in an indoor and outdoor environment.

An autonomous robot can perform desired tasks in known or unknown environments without human intervention or guidance. Autonomous robots require the ability to sense and act upon information acquired while traversing an environment and to navigate while avoiding obstacles. Autonomous robots employ intelligent navigation systems that are responsible for maintaining the current position of the robot, where the robot is attempting to head and how the robot navigates to a goal.

1.1 Objective

The objective of this project is to make a Segway platform intelligently move around an indoor environment while avoiding obstacles. The operating environment will be mapped so the navigation system for the Segway can assume knowledge beforehand. The current position and destination is also known before autonomous behaviour is engaged. A map and starting position is given as this project does not attempt to solve the Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) problem. SLAM enables a robot to build a map of an unknown area while dynamically estimating its own pose in the growing map.

The complete paper can be read here. Victoria University’s RMP 200 has been used in a number of projects since.

Segway Robotics Mobility Platforms (RMPs)
Segway Robotics Mobility Platforms (RMPs)

Segway, Inc. developed the RMP line as specialised tools that enable end-users to build powerful robotics solutions, without having to “reinvent the wheel” that the solution rides on. Find out more about the Segway Robotics Mobility Platforms here at the Segway RMP website. You’ll find information about models as well as videos of a wide variety of research activities being conducted around the world (including ARTI – a centre-articulated four-wheel-drive version of the powerful RMP 440SE range that can go just about anywhere).

Here is Segway, Inc.’s information about some of the key benefits and reasons to use Segway RMPs:

Multiple Features & Benefits
Segway® Robotics Mobility Platforms (RMPs) are robust, reliable and offer the benefit of a straightforward, low-level design. This provides users the freedom to choose and integrate the best sensors, radios, PCs, vision systems, manipulators or other hardware for their specific applications.

Practical Performance
Segway RMPs — Workhorse units that are:

  • Based on the Segway PT’s proven battery, gearbox, motor and powerbase designs
  • Compact, easy to transport and quick to deploy
  • Reliable, easy to operate and powered by lithium-ion battery packs
  • Configurable and scalable

Varied Applications
Our mobile robotics platforms are applied to a variety of markets segments including:

  • Research and development
  • Indoor/outdoor navigation and path planning
  • Industrial automation
  • Defense application

Proven Expertise
Segway is one of the world’s leading developers of Robotics Mobility Platforms (RMPs). Its RMPs leverage the components and proprietary technology that has been deployed and tested in rugged environments across the globe as part of the durable Segway Personal Transporter (PT).

Deliberate Design & Customization
Segway’s engineers lead the product development industry in the areas of drive-by-wire technology, advanced sensing systems, dynamic stabilization and smart battery management. Their expertise is demonstrated in the simple and straightforward design of robotics platforms, which boast unmatched versatility, durability and performance.

RMP platforms are available in a variety of 2, 3 and 4 wheel configurations. All feature a flexible and intuitive user interface developed with the knowledge that simple customization and rapid integration are key features that our customers demand. The available selection of standard options allows each RMP to meet the mobility demands of most unmanned ground vehicle applications. In order to meet the needs of customers that require delivery of complete turn-key systems, custom options and full integration services are available.

Open Architecture & Easy Integration
Segway’s robust electric propulsion system coupled with a flexible user interface results in an open architecture platform. The platforms provide researchers, scientists and engineers the ability to easily integrate sensors, manipulators, additional payloads and other third party equipment into or on top of the platform. Create advanced robotics solutions for research as well as commercial products with Segway RMPs.

Find out more about the Segway Robotics Mobility Platforms here at the Segway RMP website.

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