Group creates computer-vision car for Senior Design
Susan Kantor, ECE ILLINOIS
- ECE seniors Brian Chung, Richard Otap, and Ruben Zhao formed a team for ECE 445: Senior Design
- The team set out to create a car that could follow a tennis ball that is connected to a web cam.
- The team members trusted each other to do quality work so that when the final product came together, it functioned as it should.
During the spring 2010 semester, ECE seniors Brian Chung, Richard Otap, and Ruben Zhao completed one of the last ECE projects of their undergraduate careers, but they will carry the lessons they learned on to graduate school.
At the beginning of the semester’s ECE 445: Senior Design course, Zhao posted on the class message board that he wanted to do a project that incorporated computer vision through a robot. Chung and Otap, intrigued by the project, joined Zhao to create their senior design group.
“I’m interested in those same topics—robotics, computer vision—and it would give me the chance to do the things that I like,” Otap said.
The team first set their goal and what they wanted the project to look like: a car that could follow a tennis ball connected to a Web cam.
“If this were a real-world application, for instance in the military, it would be able to track insurgents, and it would be able to track the movement of those enemy combatants,” Chung said. “Even in the automotive industry, you would be able to track a car in front of you and stop or follow it, depending on where it is.”
They then divided the tasks into steps along the way and assigned certain tasks for each team member. Zhao was in charge of the main vision coding, Otap the computer interface, and Chung worked on the robotics.
Dividing these tasks helped the group tackle this challenge. They worked on the project every week in the semester, but the last week was most hectic, with each member spending approximately 20 hours working on the project.
“Even though it took a long time, I think it worked out really well because each of us had our own subsystems and we tested it for different inputs,” Chung said. “Because we did so much testing and verification, when we put it together, it worked out together in the end.”
Because they tested the system vigorously throughout the semester, when they did the final test of the whole system, it worked. The car followed the ball, as was expected in their proposal.
“We helped each other out along the way, but it was split into components heavy enough that we could have our own part to work on,” Otap said. “We wouldn’t be held up by anyone else in the pipeline, so to speak.”
The team’s hard work paid off—they received the Robotics Area Award for their project.
The car is now disassembled and the grades are final, but the team will carry the lessons they learned with them.
“There are a lot of things like this we’ll probably do in grad school: developing your own home-grown system, putting it together with something else someone else has done in their research,” Otap said. “Things like that probably happen pretty frequently, so we’re going to benefit from learning to do that right now.”
The team members trusted each other to do quality work so that when the final product came together, it functioned as it should. For their work, the team won the ECE 445 course’s area award for robotics.
“It was nice doing everything from the ground up to the very end,” Chung said. “It’s all you. That’s the best part.”