Bot on a Wire
In August 2020, Eversource approached WPI with a problem: Residents near Cedar Pond were complaining about large numbers of cormorants landing on power lines, defecating in the pond, and disturbing the peace. Other bird-shooing strategies had proven unsuccessful, so Professor Greg Lewin and the undergraduate team he assembled, including me, were tasked with creating a robot that would travel up and down the power line, detect birds, and scare them away without harming them.
Between August 2020 and May 2021, we created a first prototype. I was responsible for the gimbal, which allowed the bird deterrents to rotate in the hemisphere above its mounted position.
Between June 2021 and August 2021, I completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and redesigned the gimbal to be water resistant. since the robot would stay outside regardless of weather conditions. The challenge here was that the directional sound deterrent and camera (shown in the poster) needed to be outside. So, I created a case to cover the gears, with only one hole for the deterrent module to stick out. I designed a gutter (in blue, below) to catch any water that gets between the case and the deterrent, and release it harmlessly outside of the robot. The limit switches were exchanged for water resistant buttons, and holes were dedicated to the deterrent module's wires. The use of chain and sprocket (chains not shown) allows the motor to stay low while allowing the deterrent module full range of necessary motion (the gimbal was designed to accommodate the same deterrent module as the first version). The poster from the end of summer research showcase, as well as the CAD files for the redesigned gimbal can be found below.
After August 2021, I served as a consultant to the project, helping the new team where necessary. To that end, I participated in discussions on the software architecture, soldered wires, and laser cut and 3D printed parts.