1. Robotics Teaching and Research With Prof. Harry Asada
Professor Harry Asada, Ford Professor of Engineering, has used LabVIEW Real-Time, LabVIEW FPGA and CompactRIO in his research for several years. His research projects using LabVIEW and CompactRIO included an inspection robot that can walk on the underside of bridges, a pendulum robot that can swing over aircraft for inspection, and a custom motor that fits inside an aircraft wing for assembly. In this video, one of Prof Asada's graduate students (Ani Mazumdar) discusses the research and demonstrates the bridge inspection robot in action: MIT Mag-Foot demonstration
Figure 1: MIT Mag-Foot Robot for Bridge Inspection
In the fall of 2010, Professor Asada integrated LabVIEW Real-Time, the LabVIEW MathScript RT Module, NI Vision and CompactRIO into his undergraduate robotics course. These tools enabled students with a wide variety of programming experiences to develop robust code for their robot designs to handle challenging tasks including autonomy, vision guidance, path planning, and feedback control. With the adoption of one integrated software platform (NI LabVIEW) in the course, students were able to solve difficult problems that were previously not addressed due to time constraints. Additionally, students receive the added benefit of learning with the same tools that are used in research and industry. Here is a 2011 NIWeek keynote video of the winning team's robot design and demo: MIT "Plug the Oilwell" robot demonstration
A case study describing the work in the robotics course is here: MIT Adopts LabVIEW and CompactRIO for Key Robotics Course
Figure 2: Team Plug Gantry Robot for MIT ME Robotics Course (2.12)
Figure 3: LabVIEW MathScript Node in Timed Loop
2. Controls Research With Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi
Professor Kamal Youcef-Toumi utilizes LabVIEW and the RIO platform for his high-speed atomic force microscope research. His team uses the FPGA in a CompactRIO system to implement filtering and input shaping for the scan command signals at 200 kHz. They also use a PXI system with an 7851R board to implement a feedback control system at 500 kHz. The LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module is used to design and analyze the control systems for FPGAs and the LabVIEW Digital Filter Design Toolkit generates the LabVIEW FPGA code for the controllers. The LabVIEW System Identification Toolkit is used to identify the dynamics of high speed custom scanners used in the project. Within the LabVIEW platform there are many different design tools to do rapid prototyping, all within a single integrated software tool. This allows the researchers to go from design to simulation to hardware implementation more quickly.
Figure 4: Custom Sample Scanner for Atomic Force Microscope
3. Mechatronics Research With Prof. David Trumper
Professor David Trumper's research is focused on precision mechatronics, with research threads in precision motion control, high-performance manufacturing equipment, and magnetic suspensions and bearings. He is using LabVIEW and PXI systems in work on magnetically-levitated positioners and in work on high-speed flywheel energy storage systems, as well as in the control of a single-cell pick and place robot for bioassays. In earlier projects, he used LabVIEW, PXI RT, and FPGA for the control of a high accuracy atomic force microscope.
Figure 5: Component of a High Accuracy Atomic Force Microscope
4. Robotics Research With Prof. Sangbae Kim
Professor Sangbae Kim uses NI Single-Board RIO, LabVIEW Real-Time, and LabVIEW FPGA to develop a control architecture for legged locomotion. The Single-Board RIO device is also being used for sensor fusion for multi-parallel IMU's and laser distance sensor arrays. Their work with LabVIEW has reduced the time for system integration. The research will be used to develop a high speed "cheetah" robot.
Figure 5a: Cheetah Robot Leg in Test Fixture, Figure 5b: Cheetah Robot Model
5. Additional Courses at MIT
Professor Jonathan How in the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics uses LabVIEW and CompactRIO hardware to teach a controls laboratory for undergraduate and graduate students at MIT. The students design and prototype controllers in simulation and then implement them in real-world systems using a unified software architecture.
As part of the course, students are asked to design and implement roll, pitch, and yaw controllers for physical systems in a series of laboratory modules. Students design their classical controllers using root loci, Bode plots, and other techniques. They develop state-space controllers using linear-quadratic regulator (LQR), linear-quadratic Gaussian (LQG), and dynamic output feedback (DOFB) designs. Students perform state feedback, state estimation, and dynamic control law design using the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module and LabVIEW MathScript RT Module. After validating their controllers in simulation, students deploy their designs to control a highly nonlinear Quanser 3 DOF helicopter plant using CompactRIO with the LabVIEW FPGA and LabVIEW Real-Time modules.
A case study for the controls laboratory course is provided here: MIT Students Use LabVIEW and CompactRIO to Design and Implement a Dynamic Output Feedback Controller
6. Next Steps
Contact your local field engineer about getting NI tools in your school: Email your local field engineer about software and hardware configurations.
Also, see courseware and product solutions for teaching controls and mechatronics:
And see case studies and product solutions for robotics: http://www.ni.com/robotics