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Problem:

    Most factories today spend unnecessary man-hours for employees to leave their positions on the assembly line to go retrieve a small box of parts. This is a simple task, and it is not only below the difficulty of work these employees are capable of doing, but it also results in inefficiency. Employees often lose additional productivity when they are required to look up the item’s location and then document what has been removed from the warehouse. A second problem faced in these warehouses (or small stores) is the cost barrier to implement an effective solution. Companies are always striving to make their processes more streamlined and efficient, but there are few feasible solutions on the market. Also, the process of finding an appropriate solution is cost exhaustive in itself.

Solution:

    The latest trend in warehouse and factory product management is a push for autonomy. This is because autonomous systems are capable of performing many of the necessary tasks in these industries. These tasks primarily consist of organization, storage, and retrieval of parts. Our team’s solution is to develop a small prototype robot which can organize, store, and retrieve items, therefore eliminating the problem of wasted time. As previously mentioned, cost will be a significant driving factor in our design. Our product will not be marketable if it does not function as a quick turn, low cost solution. Therefore, it is critical to develop a prototype which is reliable, inexpensive, and fully functional.

Design Objectives:

1. Use a free, open source VHDL processor core to serve as a robotic control unit
2. Develop an I/O address port to allow CPU access to motors through addressing
3. Design a track system
4. Design a moveable base with wheels powered by electric motors
a. Capable of moving weight of entire device and load
5. Design an arm lift and extension modules
a. Must be capable of lifting specified load weight of 5 pounds
6. Design a gripper unit with pressure sensitivity or optical alignment capabilities
7. Design a Graphical User Interface for sending commands and monitoring performance
8. If time allows, incorporate a Database Server to monitor the stock and location of items