POKI : Robotic ball collector on golf ranges
At the majority of golf ranges today, the range balls are picked up manually by a golf truck and driver, which is repetitive and could be automatized.
This report describes how such robot can be constructed to autonomously collect golf balls, in a way that is beneficial in both economical and environmental aspects.
The prototype has been constructed to work under real life circumstances, but some restrictions were needed due to limitations in time and economy. This project mainly focused on the detection of the golf balls. The steering is places at the front wheels to enable continuous drift at the rear axle, where the balls are picked up.
Using a GPS, the size of the range was defined, limiting the area where the robot will go. The GPS also provides the robot with an approximate location of the charging station. Within the area, the robot uses a camera to detect golf balls and charging station, where the balls are dropped off. The camera used for this project was a Pixy, the software was programmed via an Arduino Mega, and CAD-models were made in Solid Edge ST7. The prototype was created mainly using lathe, mill, 3D printer, laser cutter and a vacuum forming machine.
In conclusion, using a Pixy for ball detection was an unreliable method. A camera that is less light sensitive and with higher resolution would be needed to detect ball efficiently.
Many parts of this project can be developed further. For instance can solar cells be used at the charging station to enhance the environmental sustainability, and an automatic system for transportation of golf balls from charging station to dispenser is needed to make the golf ball collection completely autonomous.
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