Recent Projects: Transportation

Amphibious Robot

Team: Nicolas Burford, Kendall Farnham, Matthew Long, Benjamin Nollet, Rahul Raina, Samuel Winters
Sponsor: Steven Arcone, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
Technical Liaison: Steven Arcone
Faculty Advisor: Laura Ray

There is an interest in reliably measuring ice thickness on lakes and rivers for safety purposes in regions where ice cover is common. Currently, the most effective way to continuously measure ice thickness is with ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology. However, the robots that currently conduct these surveys are designed for polar climates with thick ice, and researchers would be unable to recover the robot or radar data if it were to fall through ice. Our sponsor wants an amphibious autonomous vehicle that is capable of towing a GPR unit and transitioning from water back onto ice in the event that it falls through thin lake ice. The first key deliverable is a works-like prototype to show proof of concept of the propulsion system. The robot should be able to drive on ice, move in water, and transition between the two. Additional deliverables include documentation of the design and testing phases, a complete bill of materials and SolidWorks drawings of the prototype, and recommendations for the ENGS 89/90 group that will complete the remainder of this project next year.

See the robot in action on YouTube and learn more about how it was built

Amphibious Robot

Dartmouth Formula Racing: Electrical Systems Integration

Team: Arthur Bledsoe, Kyle Bojanowski, Eric Din, Christopher Rhoades, Ian Schneider, Erik Skarin
Sponsor: Dartmouth Formula Racing
Technical Liaison: Monte MacDiarmid
Faculty Advisor: Kofi Odame

Dartmouth Formula Racing (DFR) is building an all-electric racecar for the 2014 Formula Hybrid competition. We were tasked with designing and constructing the entire electrical system for the car. Prior to ENGS 89, DFR purchased an electric motor and controller from Mission Motors. Our electrical system was required to interface with these components. We were tasked with creating a high-voltage (HV) battery pack to power the motor and a low-voltage (LV) system to control the high-voltage system. The design of this electrical system was driven by performance requirements supplied by DFR and rules established by the Formula Hybrid competition.

We identified and tested battery cells from different manufacturers. After comparing cells based on cost, availability, electrical performance, thermal properties, and ease of integration, we chose the EIG C020 20Ah cell. Our battery pack design is comprised of 72 of these cells, divided into 4 modules. During discharge, batteries generate heat due to internal resistance. In our pack design, each cell is separated by corrugated plastic sheets to allow airflow for cooling. Per competition rules, we were required to use a battery management system (BMS) to monitor the temperature and voltage of individual cells and turn off the HV system if safety thresholds are crossed. After comparing alternatives, we chose to purchase and integrate the Elithion Lithiumate Pro BMS, which is enabled to communicate via Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol.

To decrease weight and the total number of wires in the system, we created a custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB) to house much of the wiring and analog electronics. The PCB also houses a CAN microcontroller, which performs logical operations on LV signals. This PCB is mounted in a machined aluminum enclosure, along with the BMS master board. We designed our electrical system to easily integrate into the DFR car. We also spent roughly $3,000 less than the budget DFR established for us.

Dartmouth Formula Racing

From Barrow with Ice: Temperature Gradient Transport System

Team: Michael Banaciski, Christopher Bodine, Yeunun Choo, Nancy Guevara, Stephen Nodder
Sponsor: Rachel Obbard, Thayer School of Engineering
Technical Liaison: Rachel Obbard
Faculty Advisor: Minh Phan

Our sponsor studies ice core samples that are collected from the field and brought back to the laboratories at Dartmouth. Our goal was to develop a refrigeration system capable of maintaining the natural temperature gradient found on sea ice cores, as they are transported from Barrow, Alaska, to Hanover and subsequently stored for up to 6 months.

We devised, manufactured, and tested a Peltier driven refrigeration system housed within a large wooden box made from ACX Plywood. Within the box, ice cores are isolated from one another and surrounded by polystyrene with an R-value of 5 per inch. For each ice core, three cooling panels are used to maintain the temperature gradient within the ice core. Propylene glycol acts as a coolant for the Peltier thermoelectric chillers and transports waste heat into a chilling unit. The user interface for the system consists of a small waterproof control box mounted to the side of the ice core box that allows users to view the ice cores and select and modify an ice core's target temperature. It also alerts users to overheating emergencies through a series of LEDs. Despite our best efforts to develop a functional and integrated power solution and solve a fluid head loss issue plaguing the cooling loop, these two systems remain incomplete. We have identified the issues and charted a path forward for future developers to untangle the last remaining hurdles and deliver a working product in time for the 2015 research season.

Ice Transport System

Segway Glide Station

Team: Daniel Bernhard, Ari Jackson, Travis Kuster, Emerson Skufca
Sponsor: Glide LLC
Technical Liaison: Brad Arguello
Faculty Advisor: Solomon Diamond

Segway Glide Station Segways were released in 2001 and have yet to generate the high levels of sales that were originally expected. The major reason for the failure is that Segways are prohibitively expensive. Assuming people are willing to pay over $6,000 for a Segway, they would still need to find a location to lock and charge it at their destination. Our sponsor approached us with the task of developing a device that would help make the using of Segways on a regular basis more feasible: a locking and charging station.

Requirements for our prototype included safety for users, security of the Segways, ease of use, ability to successfully charge the Segway, and non-prohibitive cost. Our final design minimized the footprint of the station, provided protection for the Segway at all times, and increased safety by eliminating exposed wires, which was a primary concern with other designs. Upon completion of the prototype, we conducted a significant amount of user testing to assess how intuitive it was for first-time users to dock/undock the Segway. Our sponsor is excited about our progress and in the process of taking this project into the next phase.