QUTRC Perseus Rover Project

At the QUT Robotics club (QUTRC) we are dedicated to fostering innovation and providing students with hands-on learning and practical experience in robotics.

The Australian Rover Challenge is a prestigious competition that brings together university students to design and build mock lunar rovers capable of navigating challenging terrains while performing tasks, and showcasing our engineering abilities.

The challenge runs across 4 intensive days, with each bringing its own mission objectives and requirements:

  1. Landing Task
  2. Construction Task
  3. Institute Resources & Science Task
  4. Autonomous Navigation & Mapping task

A.R.C. Team Artemis 2023

Last year we attended the competition for our 1st time entry - Artemis, successfully achieving 4th place. We were also graciously awarded the title_ of "Best First-time Entry" by the competition organisers.

QUTRC A.R.C. Perseus 2024

The Perseus project represents the Queensland University of Technology Robotics Club’s (QUTRC) desire to field a second-generation rover (Perseus) in the Australian Rover Challenge in 2024 (Competition) and meet or exceed the requirements of each task in the Competition.

Perseus, a four-wheeled custom-manufactured rover, boasts modular sub-systems and an architecture prioritising robustness. A comprehensive electrical system overhaul, incorporating lessons from Artemis, is underway to fortify the Perseus platform for 2024.

Planned PCBs 2024 sponsorship:

1. Rover Control Board - RCB

Intelligent power distribution, control & management

This is the heart of our electrical subsystem, serving as an intelligent high current bus-bar that delivers fine subsystem level monitoring and control during operation. Due to large capacitive loads inherent with running 4 powerful BLDC motors the RCB also handles subsystem level pre-charge to reduce the strain of high inrush current in the system when switching.

Last year the RCB module drove 3x contactors to control power to each subsystem, in conjunction with pre-charge and current monitoring.

This year the RCB has been redesigned from the ground up as an all-in-one solution utilizing automotive-grade smart switches for high currents up to 100A per channel. Press-fit terminals will be used for high-current connections. A main contactor is still in use to provide the E-stop with an emergency physical disconnect of all power.

This board is built to be driven by our embedded system module, called the SBB, and serves as the highest point of control for the rover. All communication is passed and read over the rover’s CAN bus network.

On startup the RCB runs an intelligent startup sequence that monitors voltage and current to ensure a safe boot sequence.

Logging and Error states are published over the CAN and to the integrated I2C display for efficient diagnosis of issues and to ensure fast action can be taken on the day of competition.

2. Smol Brain Board - SBB

Embedded System Module

This is our custom Embedded compute module designed to be dropped into any PCB that needs to interface with the rover system. It contains all required commonalities between PCBs such as:

  1. ESP32-S3 module
  2. AP63203WU Buck Regulator: 32V → 3.3V 2A
  3. CAN bus
  4. Over current protection
  5. Dual Power supply - can be supplied from battery, or over USB

It breaks out 39x GPIO including 10 ADC channels, 2x UART, 1x SPI bus, and 1x I2C bus.

3. Motor Control Boards - MCB

CAN bus-controlled motor driver module

These boards interface our SBB modules with our purchased Maxon ESCs. They are designed to allow the SBB to read the motor’s hall effect sensors, current, and voltage, as well as control the ESC. All of this data is published over the CAN bus network, allowing for configuration by the RCB or reading direct motor commands from the Perseus Jetson Orin Navigation stack.

4. Auxiliary System Modules

Additional Auxiliary modules will be designed to be swapped out depending on the competition day tasks for our 2024 entry into ARC. Specialized PCBs and electrical designs will be developed for the:

  1. Science Payload & heating system
  2. Construction Payload

PCBWay sponsorship

Given the extensive scope of our electrical system, we require multiple PCB runs for manufacturing a robust system. Building upon our successful first-time entry last year, we aim to significantly improve our system but need support and funding from prospective industry partners like PCB Way.

For instance, PCB Way's advanced manufacturing capabilities can help maintain the required current rating of our RCB PCB by granting access to 2oz, 4-layer PCBs. Additionally, we may explore designing and testing custom PCB heating elements for the rover's science subsystem, utilizing various stiffeners, substrates, and copper layer options available through PCB Way sponsorship.

As we aspire to be a formidable recurring entry in the Australian Rover Challenge, PCBWay's ongoing support will empower us to break our limitations and continue innovating fresh and exciting solutions into the future. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate and achieve our goals through their support.

Please peruse the following links for more information:

Club Website: https://qutrobotics.com/

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/qutroboticsclub

University Website: https://www.qut.edu.au/

ARC Website: https://set.adelaide.edu.au/atcsr/australian-rover-challenge/

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Dec 04,2023
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