Project documentation

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At this wiki page, the process of the group during the weeks of the project will be described. The goal of this wiki page is to illustrate the progress of the group and to show the development of the project from the beginning until the final deliverable, to explain what different paths were chosen and why those paths were chosen. This will be detailed week per week. This progress will be reflected upon at Project reflection.
General information about the project can be found in PRE2017 4 Groep6.

Progress by week

Week 1

In the first week of the project, there was no tutor meeting but there was an introductory lecture about the project. During this meeting the group was constructed and the first ideas about topics for the project were discussed. After the first lecture, the group gathered and brainstormed more about interesting and original topics for this project. Topics that were discussed were a deforestation and/or pollination robot, a surgical robot, an AED robot, a robot to aid elderly at a crosswalk, cybernetic enhancements, and a public service robot. The group decided to divide three of the most interesting and feasible topics, being the deforestation/pollination robot, the AED robot and the public service robot, in order to figure out which would be most interesting to investigate and at which topic the group could contribute to the technology. The AED robot was not chosen, because it turned out that drones carrying an AED device already exist, which very closely resembles our idea. Next it was deemed that a deforestation robot would be better to investigate because it is coupled with a societal issue, whereas a public service robot to make inquiries is not very much so. On Thursday the group decided that the project would focus on deforestation since we thought this would be something different compared to previous groups and a lot of interesting literature was found about deforestation and reforestation. Since the course is also a USE course, the topic should of course have a societal impact somewhere and deforestation is a huge problem in society the last few years and in the years to come. Next, the group thought of interesting topics regarding deforestation that could help us define our final deliverable more and to get some more insight into the state of the art. Every group member got a topic to find literature about. We decided that we want to deliver a wiki with some literature review, a prototype of the final robot design and a model to calculate important values of variables.

Week 2

In week two the group started to focus on which users could be defined for the prototype. This was perhaps a bit too early in the process since the exact form of the prototype was not clear yet. During the tutor meeting on Monday the feedback from the tutors was to further narrow the problem to gain a better understanding in the working conditions for the robot, as deforestation in general is too broad of a subject. For example a National park or a forest that is owned by a logging company, since it is important to know what the exact environment of your prototype is before you can design a prototype and define a user group. We thus needed to further specify the situation in which the prototype will work and also what the exact work of the prototype will be. To investigate this we came up with three possible work environments for the robot: forest fire in National parks, reforestation of nature reserves and deforestation in a forest of a logging company and did more literature review to find out what scenario is most common and which scenario is mostly benefited by a robot. We decided to choose the forest fire in a National park scenario since this scenario occurs often, which makes sure the prototype will be used often, and the problem to check whether the ground is fertile and whether the ground is not being burned down for other purposes is avoided, which might have introduced user conflicts. Next, we thought of possible users and user requirements, we further elaborated the state-of-the-art articles and started thinking about concepts for the robot prototype with preferences, requirements, and constraints. The focus regarding the prototype was on the seeding mechanism, for other parts of the prototype, e.g. moving, are already existing functioning mechanisms.

Week 3

In week three we first presented all our new literature review to the tutors and also presented three possible seeding mechanisms and asked for feedback on our work. The question that was raised by the tutors was why exactly a robot was necessary for the reforestation in a National park and why an airplane or natural reforestation was not efficient or good enough. This was an interesting question and our group had not focused on that enough. Therefore the prototypes and their designs were put on hold and we did more literature review on the existing reforestation methods: natural reforestation, aerial reforestation, and manual reforestation. We investigated which level control was necessary for reforestation of a national park and what the flaws of current reforestation methods are and where a robot would be a better solution.

Week 4

During the tutor meeting of week four we presented the results of our extended literature review about why the current reforestation methods can be improved when using a robot and why this would benefit National parks. At this point it became clear that the focus of our robot is to rehabilitate the biodiversity in a National park after a forest fire. This week the exact purpose of the robot thus became clear and the previously described users, user requirements, prototype objectives and requirements, constraints, and preferences of the prototype design can be revised and adjusted to the purpose of the prototype. This resulted in the wiki page ‘user and product analysis’ In this week the group decided to redesign the wiki to make the wiki clearer. The current reforestation methods were typed out and a conclusion was written in which the most useful reforestation method for reforestation after a forest fire in a National park was chosen. On the basis of this reforestation method and its flaws, the very beginning of the prototype of the robot can be explained. Also, the initial state-of-the-art literature was adjusted to the needs of our current subject.

Week 5

In week five we had come to the realization that we had already passed the halfway point of the course duration and have yet to start with the prototype. Even though we had some solid ground as to why a robot prototype would be a desirable deliverable of the project, it was deemed better to put some extra focus at the literature and eventually make a recommendation for a robot design, as building a robot in three weeks would never result in a prototype of academic quality. This resulted in the objective and planning of the project that needed to be adjusted. The new deliverable of the project is an advice of a reforestation robot. With the previous literature review, we found out what is the current best reforestation method. This week, this information was used to write out three possible seeding mechanisms with the revised requirements in mind: a gritter, drill, and plow. Furthermore, we thought it would be interesting to do a few case studies to learn about reforestation strategies and to implement interesting features in the robot. We searched for interesting literature for case studies in order to write two case studies in week 6.

Week 6

In week 6 We did an analysis on the three seeding mechanisms which we created last week with respect to the user and product analysis. This analysis resulted in the conclusion that the drill is the best mechanism to use for our prototype. This week, we also worked out two use cases. These use cases resulted in some extra preferences for the prototype and the product analysis wiki page is adjusted with these extra preferences. During the tutor meeting of week six, the tutors had the feedback that we need a more technical implementation to make sure our project would not terminate at an artist impression. On Thursday we did a brainstorm session on how we can implement more technical aspects in the project. We came up with two ideas: design an interface where the forester can communicate with the reforestation robot and make a model for the drill to calculate different quantities. The first ideas of what the interface should look like and what options should be available were thought of during the brainstorm session and these ideas were written down to further elaborate on during the weekend. For the model of the drill useful literature was searched. This week the group also made technical 3D drawings of the three seeding mechanisms to give an idea of how the mechanisms will look like.

Week 7

During the tutor meeting of week seven we presented our ideas about how to integrate more technical aspects in our report: the model of the drill and the user interface. The feedback was that the drill would not be a logical continuation of what we worked on the past few weeks. The mechanism of the drill is ages old and does not contribute anything new to the main purpose of the project; restoring biodiversity. The user interface was however a logical continuation of the project. Therefore, we decided that we would not work out a model of the drill and focus on the user interface. The feedback on the user interface was that we need to think about the level of autonomy that the robot will receive. After the tutor meeting, we decided on the level of autonomy of the robot, what information the forester needs to implement in the system and what the output of the interface will be. In week 7, the group focused on further elaborating this user interface since this will be an important aspect of the final report. Furthermore, this week all the references were checked on correctness and adjusted where necessary.

Week 8

In week eight, the group was still focusing on the user interface. New features were implemented in the interface and a section was written about the communication between the robot and the interface. When the interface was finished, we documented it in the wiki. In this week, the group also wrote a reflection about the project since this is the last week of the project. A spelling check of the wiki was done and the final presentation of the project was prepared. This week, the group also decided to write a short Matlab script about the time a robot needs to plant seeds. This script is used in the user interface to calculate the amount of time that is needed to reforest the destroyed area.