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Thursday, September 20, 2012 - Center for Robotics, Unmanned and Intelligent Systems (CRUIS)
CRUIS Activities:

The Center for Robotics, Unmanned and Intelligent Systems (CRUIS) has embarked on a few research and engineering projects at the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator over several past months. In each case, a CRUIS team would work on a novel concept, adapt the uniqueness of the idea for a potential demonstration of beneficial application, engineer a design using computer model and new technologies, build a demonstration prototype and evaluate its technical performance, capability and limitation. Members of a CRUIS team would include current and former students of Oakland University, engineers and various professionals from the industries and faculty from OU. The goal of CRUIS is to transition technical knowledge from academia to the industry. Prof Ka C Cheok is the director of CRUIS. Several OU faculty are members of the CRUIS, including Prof. Subramanian Ganesan, who is actively engaged at CRUIS.

Sliding Mode Continuous Variable Transmission:

A first project that has yielded a demonstration prototype is a one-of-a-kind continuous variable transmission (CVT) mechanism. The concept is based on a patent assigned to inventors Jack Klovstad and Jim Fortune (an OU alumnus). The novel principle lies in the ability to smoothly convert a rotary input motion into linear translations by controlling a slider angle. The ratio of the linear speed to the rotary speed changes gradually with the angle. The linear translations are coupled to a rotary output wheel. A continuous variable transmission has many advantages over fixed ratio transmission employed in most of today’s vehicles and machines. The slider based CVT developed by the CRUIS team has features that can overcome disadvantages of other CVT’s currently available in the market, and has attracted the attention of automotive OEMs. The CRUIS team, with help of the Macomb-OU INCubator, is seeking investors to take the R&D to the next phase. Jim Fortune and Walid Elsady (also an alumnus) oversee the project. The team includes Prashanth Rajendran, (current OU engineering graduate students), Raja Rajendran, Shane DeVoe (both alumni), and Bill Baedke and Ed Debler (retired professionals). The project is presently sponsored by CRUIS.

Mine Detection Robot (MDBot):

Another team at CRUIS developed a prototype mine detection mobile manipulator robot (MDBot). The project was inspired by Prof. Arbnor Pajaziti of the Mechanical Engineering Dept, University of Pristina, Kosovo, who deeply understands the dire need to rid of landmines in Kosovo and other parts of the world. The arm manipulator on the mobile robot carries a mine detector and sweeps the ground to determine if there is a landmine or similar objects in the area of interest. The technology, though very promising, has not been used in practice due to high cost and use difficulty. The aim of the CRUIS is to demonstrate feasibility design and implementation of low-cost high-performance MDBot using COTS (commercial over the shelf) components from the computer, robotics and automotive industries. Dr Pajaziti oversees the project, leading a team consisting of OU students and alumni including Irfan Baftiu, Gentian Godo, Micho Radovnikovich, Smitha Sridhar, Kevin Hallenbeck, Paul Fleck, Dr. Nick Zorka and others. Prof. Pajaziti was a visiting US Fulbright Scholar at Oakland University, working with Prof Ka C Cheok over the spring of 2012, and led the project to build the mine detection robot.

According to a UN estimate, there are about 40-120 million large and small landmines all over the world today. About 60 millions are small antipersonnel (AP) landmines meant to kill and maim a person or persons. There are over 90 mine infested countries in the world. AP landmines kill and maim more than 26,000 innocent civilians per year, including children. That’s over 70 a day or 3 per hour. Civilian demining, a.k.a. humanitarian demining, is a global issue and of great concern to affected regions. At present, handheld mine detectors seem to be the only and most efficient tools for identifying landmines in a civilian setting. The dangerous manual mine-clearing is often entrusted to local civilians. Statistics shows that approximately one de-miner would be killed for every 5000 mines being cleared. Removal of a mine cost more than 750 euros (US$1000) on average. The dangerous and cost factors naturally lead to a desire to use a vehicle-mounted mine detection system to assist a human de-miner. Consideration is being made for new MDBots to be tested at actual demining sites in Kosovo.

Ionic Lifter Levitation Technology:

When a high voltage, say around 30kV DC, is applied across a lightweight capacitive structure consisting of a thin conductor cable (positive potential) and a conductor foil skirt (negative), the electric potential field creates a flow of ionized molecules in the air surrounding the conductors. The ionized molecule movements produce a force that lifts the structure, producing levitation without any apparent mechanical propulsion. Steve Fiondo (OU alumnus), working with Prof Ka C Cheok, was able to replicate the ionic lifter levitation at CRUIS facility. Application of ionic lifter levitation technology is being considered for commercial use.

 Sliding Mode Continuous Variable Transmission    Mine Detection Robot    Ionic Lifter Levitation Technology