Week 9 (Oct. 24, 2018): Presentation #2 (Primary & Alternative Design Concepts) Reflection

The second of three Senior Project presentations were delivered today. Please refer to our presentation slides, embedded below.

The objective of this presentation was to elaborate on our team design specifications and component selection. Our presentation can be divided into five sections: (1) our sub-team’s role and significance in the overarching SPARTAN Superway project to ultimately produce a successful system; (2) our primary design concepts as well as alternative concepts; (3) an updated Gantt Chart reflecting what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done for the Fall 2018 semester; (4) our dependencies, or elements that need to happen for our team to be successful; and (5) our contingencies, or our backup plan that we will resort to should an aspect of the project fail.

While we did we not receive too much feedback since we were pressed for time, we know where we still have to improve.

First, we have to start showing quantifiable actions taken to show that we are serious about being sponsored. Although the rubric stated that we should have alternative concepts for today’s presentation, it would probably be best to identify to which concept we are leaning more towards implementing, in order to show more confidence in our component selection. For example, in our Presentation #2 today, Patrick listed three possible ideas for solving the collision-avoidance issue: adding a second ultrasonic sensor, installing a IR sensor array, or using a time-of-flight sensor mounted on top of a servomotor to act as a makeshift lidar. However, he was hesitant in stating which idea the team was more inclined to implementing. Though, he did elaborate on why using a GPS module would not be possible. Recently, we learned in our ME 190 class (Mechatronics System Design) that GPS is not very accurate, as it does not have a fine resolution. GPS is not very accurate, as it does not have a fine resolution. Within a 10-meter radius, the satellite cannot distinguish whether the object is at the 1-meter mark or if it’s at the 9-meter mark; in other words, the object that the GPS is attached to will just be a big dot on the map. Additionally, the object would have to be travelling faster than 1 m/s; we aimed to have the podcar travel at around 1 m/s, so there is chance that the moving object will still not register on the GPS. Thus, while implementing the GPS would have solved both the collision-avoidance and the location tracking issue, it would not be a viable option for the small-scale model, as the entire track is about two-meters end-to-end.

Secondly, we have to create a more detailed Gantt Chart. We should make clearer what we have already accomplished by crossing them out completed tasks, instead of simply leaving them out. Secondly, while we stated in our Presentation #1 that Patrick’s and David’s duties will overlap, as Patrick would oversee the software side and David would be in charge of the hardware, we should identify who has completed which task on our Gantt Chart.

An important factor of the SPARTAN Superway project is teamwork. To reiterate what we stated in our presentation: we must work closely and communicate clearly with the other Small-Scale Teams to produce a fully functional small-scale model. With the Small-Scale Track Team, we must coordinate the placement of our induction charging stations along the track. With the Small-Scale Bogie Team, we have coordinated the selection of the appropriate motor to be used to drive the bogie.

When the time comes for our third and final presentation (for the design phase and first semester of the senior project course), we will for certain consolidate all the feedback that Dr. Furman, Mr. Hagstrom, and Ron Swenson provided for Presentation #1 and #2 so that we can produce a fully functional small-scale model, and thus a successful SPARTAN Superway project. As a reminder, SPARTAN = Solar Powered (to offer a solution to end dependability on non-renewable sources of energy, such as petroleum and natural gas, thus reducing carbon emissions), Autonomous (to provide a self-sufficient transportation system that does not require a large maintenance team), Rapid Transit (to provide direct-to-destination transportation), Ascendant (literally, the track will be suspended above the ground to reduce traffic congestion, and figuratively, it is an emerging mode of transportation) Network (the system will be a network of tracks, railways, and PV panels).

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