DARPA Robotics Challenge

Greetings from the DRC! WALRUS would like to congratulate the WPI-CMU on a fantastic performance, and wants to share some pictures from the event. Thanks to everyone who visited us at the DRC expo!

20150606_130359 20150606_095402

Intel-Cornell Cup Results

We are happy to announce that we took home the Intel-Cornell Cup Grand Prize last week. We would also like to congratulate the other WPI team, Soft Robotic Hand, for taking home a First Place prize. There were a lot of other great teams there with awesome projects. You can check them all out here.

Intel Cornell Cup Prize

One Down, Two to go

WALRUS is enjoying our time at the Intel-Cornell Cup. We’ve completed our first round of judging and have two more in the morning. Here are some pictures of our demonstrations, including WALRUS meeting R2D2!




Off to Florida!

Wish us luck! We finished packing last night and are on our way to the airport! Shout out to Mathews Associates Inc. for letting us borrow BB2590 batteries when we arrive.




Project Presentation Day & Robot Upgrades


Hello Everyone!

Project Presentation Day on April 23rd was a resounding success. Thank you to everyone who came to support our project! We’re currently in the running for the Provost Award in Robotics Engineering; stay tuned for updates and wish us luck!



We’ve also been hard at work repairing and upgrading WALRUS Rover for the Intel-Cornell Cup next weekend at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. We have new pod shaft interlocks made from high strength 2024 aluminum alloy with the new four fin design shown below. We’ve also swapped out our pod motor controllers for more advanced and reliable RoboteQ controllers.


Don’t forget to vote for the WALRUS Rover for the Intel-Cornell Cup Media award, just click here: http://www.systemseng.cornell.edu/se/intel/news/blogsurvey.cfm. We appreciate everyone’s support!

Intel-Cornell Cup Finals Submission

Hi Everyone!

We’ve just finished up our submissions for the Intel-Cornell Cup Finals! For this part of the competition we were asked to give at 12 minute presentation on the achievements of the WALRUS Rover, as well as write a technical report outlining the engineering done for this project.

You can see our presentation here: Intel-Cornell Cup Final Presentation or see it beow.

To download our paper go here: Intel-Cornell Cup Final Report.


We hope to see you on project presentation day this Thursday!!

Project Presentation Day & NERVE Testing

Hi All!

Sorry its been so long since our last post, things have been quite busy here! We’ve been preparing for this upcoming weeks’ presentations and demos, as well as making improvements to WALRUS.

Before I dive into some of the testing we did at NERVE, I wanted to share the schedule for the WALRUS Rover at WPI’s project presentation day! This year, projects presentation day will occur on Thursday April 23rd at WPI.  We will be presenting for all four of our majors with the schedule below:

  • 10:00 am -12:00 pm: Mechanical Engineering Expo in Alden Hall
  • 12:30 pm to 2:45 pm: Robotics Engineering Expo in Atwater Kent
  • 2:00 pm: Robotics Engineering Presentation in Atwater Kent 116
  • 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm: Computer Science QnA in Fuller Labs
  • 3:00 pm: Computer Science Presentation (Room TBD)
  • 3:30 pm to 4:00 pm: Electrical Engineering QnA in Atwater Kent
  • 3:30 pm: Electrical Engineering Presentation (Room TBD)

Be sure to come check us out!!!!


On April 8th we had the opportunity to bring WALRUS to the NERVE Center (New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center) and do some driving on their NIST courses.

Here are a few picture highlights of the night:

IMG_1441 IMG_1418 IMG_1475 IMG_1514 IMG_1652


See you on Thursday!

Initial Stair Testing

After a lot of trial an error we have finally gotten our configuration set in our motor controllers to allow us to climb stairs with ease! Shown in the video below is not the final configuration for stairs, we still have a few improvements to make to allow us to traverse longer and steeper staircases. These will be shown in some up and coming demonstration videos.

Anyway here is some footage of the first “steps” of WALRUS:

Some footage of WALRUS in the water to come soon too!

First Drive Tests

After a very long break and first week back, we finally did some driving last night! We’re still working through some software bugs with the pod actuation so they’re not on the robot quite yet. You can check out the video here:

Hopefully we’ll post a new video soon with pods and all! Come check out the rover on Project Presentation Day on April 23rd at WPI, or at the Intel Cornel Cup exhibition on May 1st at the Kennedy Space Center!

Continued Assembly

Here’s a few pictures of our progress so far! We did our last seal test and everything checks out! The next time the robot sees water we will be fully running.


Once the robot returned from seal testing we began assembling the electronics on the top plate and began testing. We were concerned about the thermal dissipation of our power converter and main computer, but some initial tests show our CPU maintaining a safe temperature .


We also began installing electronics into the chassis and assembling the pods and quick releases. Tomorrow we will finish installing the motor heatsinks and manufacturing the wheels for the pods.



Our First Steps

The WALRUS Rover has moved under its own power! While we are still in assembly mode, the team took a break to take the rover for a walk, running the motors off of a benchtop power supply on an extension cable. This has come after a few sealing tests in the WPI pool and many hours in the shop finishing the machining of parts and assembling cables. The term may be over, but things are just heating up for us, check out the video!

Electronics Taking Shape

Over the past week we have been doing a lot of work to get the electronics ready to go inside the robot. We have wrapped up testing all of our custom embedded systems and have started cabling all of them together. While our top plate is out being anodized we created a template out of wood. This has allowed us to begin laying out components and creating wire harnesses. This allows us to test many of our systems together and will minimize the time required to get the robot up and running once the chassis is complete. We received our waterproof USB 3.0 and Ethernet connectors from our sponsor Molex this week so we have begun integrating them as well.



Our treads and pulleys have also arrived from BRECOflex. We would like to thank them for their sponsorship and are excited to start driving around.


Now that the exterior parts of the chassis are out for anodization and powder coating we have moved on to machining the the rest of the chassis components, including the drive shafting as shown below. This week we also received the bearings for our drive shafts from our sponsor Action Bearing.



Over the past couple weeks we have also begun development  of the supervised autonomy component of the WALRUS Rover. This has involved developing algorithms that will allows us to easily detect stairs and assist the operator in climbing them. For example, below is a rendering of the model fitted to a set of stairs (shown in purple and cyan) overlayed on top of the raw point cloud data from a Kinect v2 that the model was extracted from.



Over the next week we will begin to assemble the chassis and continue to work on autonomous stair detection and climbing.


Advancing to the Finals!

We’ve just received word from the judges from the Intel-Cornell Cup 2015 Competition that the WALRUS Rover team will be moving on to the final rounds! The finals will be held at the NASA Kennedy Space Center on May 1st and 2nd.


On a somewhat related note, the chassis has been sent out for anodizing, and we will post more pictures when it comes in.

Updates on Hardware

Team WALRUS is pleased to announce that all custom circuit boards are in and in the testing phase! We would like to give a big THANK YOU to EMT for their sponsorship! They got our PCBs fabricated and did all the assembly for us, saving us a significant amount of money and time. You can find EMT’s website here: http://www.elecmechtech.com/

They even graciously let us come in for a tour to show us their capabilities. Shown below are pictures of the PCB stencils they used for our board assembly, and the pick and place machine used to place down the components on our boards.



Below are pictures of a few boards they made for us. First is our boom control board, next is the diagnostics board, and last is the SMBus isolation board. Out of the 7 boards they made, we have fully tested over 4 of them, and so far so good! EMT did an amazing job with the assembly, and we couldn’t be happier with the results!

Boom-2    Diagnostics

SMBus    Box-of-Boards

We are also please to announce that we got into the semi final round of the Intel Cornell Cup! In order to advance to the finals, we had to give a presentation on our project a few days ago. We should be hearing back within the next few weeks.


That’s it for now – should be a lot more to come soon!


Quarter 3 in High Gear!

Hello everyone!

Team WALRUS was working diligently over WPI’s holiday break, and is now in high gear for term 3! There have been a significant number of developments in all areas of the rover. WALRUS is almost completely ready for manufacturing! The chassis design is complete pending a final design review, including the internal electronics layout. An external rendering of WALRUS is shown below. The boom will be designed last as it is of lower priority and not too difficult to design and fabricate.

Full Robot

An internal view of the chassis is shown below. The plan is to get the chassis professionally welded and then sent out to be anodized. Manufacturing of the chassis will begin by the end of this week and go throughout the weekend in the WPI machine shops.


Internal views of WALRUS to show off its tight electronics layout are shown below. All major electrical components were made in CAD and exported into the model. These include all the custom PCBs, the Vicor power converter, Bullet Wi-fi, and main CPU. Alot of attention to detail was required for this layout to ensure we met all size constrains and proper heat sinking needs.

Electornics Layout 1  Electronics Layout 2

The actual PCBs were finished before the holiday break started and sent off for fabrication. EMT currently has the fabricated boards and is graciously populating the boards for us. We hope to obtain them early to mid next week! Below are 3 of the 7 boards designed. Top left is the SMBus isolation board which interfaces the batteries with the main internal sensor board (bottom left), and top right is the system diagnostics board which breaks out an LCD display and some push buttons.

SMBus Diagnostics

Main Board

The LCD display and buttons are shown in a rendering below. These will be useful for demos, trouble shooting, changing settings, etc. The embedded software for the custom hardware has also been under development. The goal is to have it completed for when the boards come in next week so we can do a plug and play test. As it looks right now, we should be making that deadline.


Lastly, more was done on the user interface. Below is a screenshot of the most up to date UI. It has camera view switching, the ROS diagnostics view, sensor data, and an improved layout.


That’s all for now – we will be keeping in touch on how manufacturing goes this week!


Happy Holidays!


It was a successful end to a busy semester, and the team wanted to share this merry FEA from a friction clutch we were designing. From all of us on the WALRUS Rover team, we wanted to wish you a Happy Holidays, and we’ll see you in the new year!

Wrapping Up The End of Quarter 2

With less than 3 weeks to go before our critical design review (CDR), we have been hard at work finishing the analysis and design of the WALRUS Rover. This includes the flipper and transmission FEA, tread design, internal layout and power distribution, final component selections for our DC-DC converters and main CPU, and the custom embedded PCBs. We would like to give a big THANK YOU to Vicor for their generous donations of two converter banks.

Alot of progress has been made on our custom hardware. Below are two pictures of board layouts that will be used in our boom system. The first is our main computing and motor control board, and the second is the environmental sensing board. The sensing board has four gas sensors, and a temperature/humidity sensor. While these are not fully complete, they should be done within the next few days after a design review is completed and the last few traces are routed. There is also an LED board that will be used on the boom which is near completion as well.

Main Boom Board

Sensor Board Layout

The other custom hardware system is our internal sensor and diagnostics system. There will be two boards in this system – one to interface sensors with our main CPU, and another to provide indicator peripherals for system diagnostics and states. The internal sensors will be used to monitor temperature, humidity, and water leakage. This board will also communicate with our batteries over the SMBus. The diagnostics board will have an LCD display, some push buttons to navigate the menus, and a few indicator LEDs. These two boards are in the schematic capture phase (shown below), but should be ready to layout soon.

Internal Board Schematic

Continued Analysis and Beginning Final Designs

Over the past few weeks we have begun to move out of the prototyping phase and moved on to starting on some final analysis and design work. We have performed testing of many of the circuits that we will be using. This includes an isolator for the different voltage SMBuses that we will use to communicate with our batteries as well as a power failover circuit in order to keep our computer and communications running in the event that the primary batteries die. The circuit boards that will be inside of our boom have also been designed and the boards that will be in the main chassis are in the process of being designed. We have also been doing some scaled testing of our scale model robot (THIGH) on some scale stairs in order to perfect the geometry of our treads. A number of FEAs have also been completed in order to analyze the stress that will be exerted on our pod systems under static and dynamic loads.

Flipper Gear FEA

On the software side we have been doing a lot of testing of different technologies to use for our control system as well as developing drivers to communicate with the different hardware devices that we will be using. Specifically we have been working on communicating with our batteries, IMU and motors. We have also been investigating different methods of building a remote interface for the robot and have developed an piece of software that allows us to stream video from ROS using WebRTC. This will provide us with reliable real time video under variable network conditions.


On to Quarter 2!

WALRUS Rover Team

Last Thursday the WALRUS team kicked off the start to our second Quarter with our Preliminary Design Review (PDR). We had quite the turnout, with a total of 36 students and professors in attendance. We got some great feedback, and even a few new ideas for a design. If you’re interested in reading through our PDR Presentation, you can download it here!

Now that we’ve completed our first major milestone, its time to do some design work! Brendan and TJ are working on designing the flippers and chassis, and have selected the motors they plan to use for drive and flippers. Tim is beginning development of the embedded board on the boom, as well as a power failover system to keep our communications live in the event of a current spike in the system. Mitchell and Brian are developing developing ROS drivers for some of our on-board systems, as well as getting our prototype robot up and running with ROS Indigo.


No Such Thing as Break

As all of WPI rests up from the challenging end to A term, the WALRUS team is hard at work getting ready for our Preliminary Design Review. The PDR is scheduled to take place on Thursday October 30th at 1300 in Salisbury Labs 402. We invite anyone interested in our project to attend!

As part of our PDR presentation, we will be showing off a new scale model of the WALRUS Rover (2:3 scale). The CAD render can be seen below. All the 3D printing machines on campus are humming happily turning out parts for the prototype. This model will also double as the concept model that the programming team can begin testing with.


We should also mention the results of our visit to the RoboBusiness Conference in Boston last week. We met with dozens of companies and acquired many words of wisdom and stories from engineers that have tackled bits and pieces of our problem in the past. We also met with several potential sponsors, hopefully you will see them listed here soon! We would like to thank everyone who took the time to meet with us during the conference, it was a wonderful experience.


Testing 1, 2, 3

This past week was packed full of testing. We did preliminary communications testing to find data rates at long range and also thrust testing with a cleated track module. More to come next week! We completed our drag testing in the Student Activities and Recreation Center (SARC) with solid results. Use of the rowing tanks enabled us to hold a scale model of the vehicle in the water and calculate the drag forces on it. We did this for different speeds and different positions of the flippers. On of the really cool results from this testing was the verification that small vehicles like our rover experience hull speed effects.Take a look!


The team would like to welcome Bren-Tronics, Vicor, and Electro-Mechanical Technology to the project! If you like what you see, come meet us at the NorthEast Robotics Colloquium this Saturday, or like us on facebook.

Drag-Test Rig Manufacturing

The team has been hard are work this week manufacturing and assembling a plastic model of the robot that will be used to test drag forces in the water. Once complete we plan to drop it into the university’s rowing tank and estimate how much power the robot will need to meet or exceed its required water speed of 1 knot (1.69 ft/s). What you see below is a rough outline of the robot made from laser cut acrylic and polycarbonate sheet.
2014-09-25 (1)    2014-09-25

Weekly Blog Post 9/22

A lot of progress has been made in the last few weeks. We have grown as a team by leaps and bounds, and now have a home and initial funding! We have also finished the project proposal for submission to our advisors.

The ME Department has generously given our team an entire room to ourselves in Higgins labs. HL019 is now officially the WALRUS Lab! We cleaned the space and now have a whiteboard and projector combination, a stock rack, shelves for components, a fully stocked toolbox, and a fridge! We expect we’ll be spending a lot of time there, so we are making sure it will be a comfortable stay.

On the prototyping side, we have contacted the Student Activities and Recreation Center and now have permission to use the rowing tanks for our drag tests. We’ve designed the rig and are at the assembly phase. We are also acquiring equipment to begin communications testing as well as microcontroller components for testing a modular control scheme.

The entire WALRUS team would like to welcome two new sponsors to the project: SolidWorks and Ubiquiti Networks. If you like the project so far and are interested in learning more or helping out, feel free to contact us. We love talking about this stuff!


Welcome back!

It’s been a long summer, and there has been tons of activity. Testing continues with CALF, a small test vehicle you can see on the media page. We’ve also been doing continuous research, as our official project proposal is due on September 22nd. This document will contain the minimum requirements for the WALRUS Rover, including land and water speeds as well as size, weight, and longevity. We’ve also created a 2-page mission summary which is available here on the website. Both of these documents contain a timeline and budgets for the vehicle.

On the electrical and controls side, we are narrowing down what communication hardware we are interested in and are looking forward to ordering models for distance testing. We are also looking into sponsorships for printing of circuit boards and donations of sensors and other parts.

On the mechanical side, we are very familiar with the kind of power required to move on land, but needed to do research into marine hydrodynamics. We are going to perform a test on campus with a full-sized replica of the rover to verify power requirements for the water domain.

If you are interested in hearing more about our project feel free to look into our bios and mission statement, or contact us if you have additional questions. If you would like to meet the team in person, we will have representatives at the Northeast Robotics Colloquium (October 11th) at Brown university as well as the RoboBusiness 2014 Conference (October 15-17) at the Hynes convention center in Boston. We will be there demonstrating the BRINA robot some of our team worked on, but we would love to talk about the WALRUS Rover!

-The WALRUS Team


Here We Go!

Hey There!

We’re the team of students behind the WALRUS Rover. We are a group of five undergraduate students completing our Major Qualifying Project (MQP) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA. All together, we represent four core majors at WPI (Robotics, Mechanical, Electrical, and Computer Science) and are thrilled to work with our advisers to create such a powerful and innovative rover.

The idea for the WALRUS Rover (Water And Land Remote Un-manned Search Rover) came about at the end of our Sophomore year. Ambitious at first, we met with several professors to try to narrow down the scope of our project. We’re really excited about the possibilities of this rover.

For more information about the team or the project, check out our bio’s or preliminary mission above!

–The WALRUS Team

An Intel-Cornell Cup Grand Prize Winner

A WPI Major Qualifying Project