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  • OSCAR is an autonomous speech controlled robot created to spur the imagination and enhance the interest of students in the engineering programs. Combining power delivery, computer software, a sonar array, motors, and a mechanical arm, OSCAR provides the platform to demonstrate the extent of the engineering capabilities at Iowa State University.
  • By the end of this semester, the College of Engineering will have a demonstrable robot that can be shown to the community with pride.
  • OSCAR can be used to demonstrate the individual technical skills and inter-disciplinary coordination that come from an ISU education, while also providing a tactile, interactive, robotic ambassador for the University.

Problem Statement

General Problem Statement

To capture the interests of visitors and potential students, the College of Engineering needs an exciting demonstration of the technological capabilities of its students.

  • General Solution – Approach Statement
    • By integrating diverse disciplines to create an autonomous robot, OSCAR will embody the full range of technical skills studied at Iowa State University.

Operating Environment

  • Indoor or outdoor (under favorable weather conditions)
  • 14 – 33 degrees Celsius
  • No drop-offs or stairs
  • Environmental obstacles must be at least 2.5 feet high

Intended Users and Uses

  • Users
  • Ongo-01 team members
  • Visitors to ISU campus
  • ISU faculty and staff
  • Uses
  • Demonstrating technologies studied in computer and electrical engineering
  • Assisting in guided tours of Coover hall

Assumptions and Limitations

  • Assumptions
  • Operators speak and read English
  • Trained personnel are present during operation
  • Enough power is available to run all components
  • Limitations
  • Fits through a 30-inch doorway
  • Systems housed on chassis
  • Power supply is finite and must be
  • recharged periodically

Expected End Product

  • Wireless control through a graphical user interface (GUI)
  • Manipulate objects up to five pounds in weight
  • Self-correcting navigation and obstacle avoidance
  • Technical documentation and schematics
  • Components of the end product as shown in Figure 1: End Product Layout

Project Requirements

Design Objectives

Functional Requirements

  • Operational end effector arm
  • Improved belt drive performance
  • Wireless control through GUI
  • Attractive and functional exterior
  • Navigation on smooth surfaces
  • Recognition and avoidance of obstacles
  • Placement and retrieval of objects
  • Speech output

Design Constraints

Measurable Milestones

  • 192 MB PC RAM, 233 MHz CPU
  • 100 ft. wireless range
  • 12” radial enclosure
  • 120° of end effector rotation
  • Fix existing drive train
  • Design and implement new end effector
  • Develop GUI for end users
  • Develop and implement navigation algorithm

Solution Development

Proposed Approach

Technologies considered

  • Research technologies
  • Purchase or build components
  • Test and evaluate proposed solutions
  • Implement components into system
  • Wireless remote control
  • High-capacity power storage systems
  • Suspension systems
  • DC-DC power supplies
  • Speech synthesis systems

Testing Considerations

  • Individual component or circuit analysis
  • Manual operational testing
  • Remoter operational testing
  • Real environment testing of coordinated functionality

Estimated Resources

Personnel Efforts

Other Resources

Financial Resources

Project Schedule

Closing Summary

  • This project will demonstrate the coordination of computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering students. OSCAR requires the implementation of several technologies including motor control, sonar array, navigation, software graphical interface, power systems, and a mechanical arm.
  • To continue to develop interest and attract attention to ISU engineering, new technologies are continually incorporated to improve OSCAR’s capabilities in the vanguard of robotics technology.

Figure 1: End product layout

Project Website

Project Ongo-01

Computer Engineers

William Hoang Gavin Ripley

David Hawley Justin Rasmussen

Zach Kotlarek

Electrical Engineers

Dung Nguyen David Staab

Huy Nguyen Jason Sytsma

Michael Larson

Mechanical Engineers

Gus Aramayo

John Walvatne


ISU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty Advisor

Professor Ralph Patterson III