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Modeling Multivehicle Virtual Robotic Systems with Alibre Design

Alibre VAR helps UNM Masters student unleash the power of 3D design

Alibre Value Added Resellers (VARs) collaborate with many interesting people in the business community and the academic world. Jesse Nichols of Brainchild Enterprises has been an Alibre VAR for several years and works closely with educators and engineers in New Mexico.

Recently Jesse introduced the Alibre Design 3D CAD program to Francisco Rodriguez, a Mechanical Engineering Masters student at the University of New Mexico. Francisco had used SolidWorks as an undergraduate student at the Army Institute of Technology in Ecuador. Now at the UNM, in a new school, Francisco didn't have access to a 3D design program. Seeing his needs, Jesse connected him to his website where he downloaded the 30 day free trial of Alibre Design Professional.

"Learning how to use the basic functions of the software was really easy, plus the tutorials were helpful when I didn't know how to do something"

Starting work as a Project Assistant in the MARHES Lab at University of New Mexico, Francisco was asked to design a 3D model based on the TXT-1 monster truck from Tamiya, Inc.

The model will be used to make simulations in a virtual world scenario. Each robot is outfitted with a control board, various sensors, and an onboard embedded computer.

"Alibre Design worked really well and it took me around 80 hours to model all the parts and do the assembly", Francisco said of his immediate success with the product.

Using Alibre Design's powerful tools Francisco redesigned the original model by adding an odometer on each of the front wheels, an extra shock absorber for each wheel and an aluminum plate to support all the sensors and the computer that the final model sports.

"Now I am going to try to use the model in "Unreal Tournament" using USARSim so we will be able to make simulations in the game using the algorithms that are being developed by graduate students at UNM"

USARSim is software which can model scenarios or arenas, robots or objects, and put them in a game platform. It also allows models to be exported as DXF files into USARSim and then placed in the game platform.

"Unreal has pretty realistic physics platform, so the idea is to try the algorithms that are being developed in the MARHES lab to simulate the cooperative behavior of our robots test bed."

The game provides scenarios in which the robots to do a task, like finding an aircraft, or other object in order to examine how the algorithms work and make multiple vehicles cooperate to fulfill certain task.

The TXT model that Francisco will introduce into the game will be a slimmed down model. The virtual robot will consist of the basic frame, wheels and sensors. The goal is to develop algorithms that drive all the robots to efficiently fulfill specific tasks with cooperative behavior, communicating through network systems, cameras, and ultrasonic ranger sensors.

The culmination of the multivehicle cooperative technology that Francisco would like to emphasize is the aid these robots could give to humanitarian rescue missions. The recent earthquake in Italy is a good example of where this technology could be used to aid in search and rescue missions.

"This technology could be implemented in rescue missions to search for victims in mine fields, collapsed buildings, or for structural inspection."

Photographs courtesy of the University of New Mexico, MARHES Lab & Professor Rafael Fierro

About Alibre, Inc.
Alibre is the leading global provider of cost effective professional grade mechanical CAD, CAM, and PDM solutions. Founded in 1997 and based in Richardson, Texas, Alibre develops Alibre Design™ and Alibre CAM™, the fastest growing parametric CAD/CAM solution on the market. One fifth the cost of comparable software, Alibre Design offers the same core features of SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, and other mid-range solid modeling packages at a cost that is affordable to any business or individual. Alibre CAM extends Alibre Design to provide integrated 2 ½ to 5 axis CNC machining. Used by an immensely diverse user base, Alibre Design and Alibre CAM provide design and manufacturing solutions to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, consulting firms, machine shops, start-ups, hobbyists, inventors, teachers and students. Alibre products are distributed in 50 countries and in 15 languages.