The Rover Project – A Technical Victory

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Ok, so I guess it must be pretty clear now how bad I am at this… it’s been an obscene amount of time since I last sat down to write an entry for this blog, and I can’t really work out why.

Of course, I’ve been very busy (how’s that for an original excuse). The Rover project took up most of my time at the beginning of the second semester – having finished our robot over a week early, we spent the rest of the allotted time tweaking it, and priming batteries for the final race. This involved putting them in the Rover and running it around the track until it no longer overshot the corners. Coincidentally, this also meant we were slowly crippling our over-volted motor, and our timing dropped from 17 seconds to 19 seconds – half a second behind the winning group in the final trials.

However, ours was a technical victory. Our vehicle was created from scratch (unlike the winners’ modified toy car) and used analogue sensing, which apparently had not previously been done successfully for this project! In the end though, it was all about the satisfaction of having succeeded in what we set out to do… good coursework marks notwithstanding.

Hot on the heels of our various coursework deadlines came the summer exams. I managed to pass these, but it took some resits before I was allowed to stay on my MEng. This is something important to remember on your course – you will not be given time to revise after you hand in coursework. Almost all coursework will necessarily have to be completed near the end of the module, when lectures have covered all the material you need to complete it, which in turn means that exams are not far off. You ignore this fact at your peril, and I have personally been caught out more than once in my time at Uni… to be honest, I can see myself doing so again.

Which brings me on to my Part III individual project; I have only just begun the work, but already it is abundantly clear how little time I have. My title is:

‘The measurement of knee kinematics using IMEMS devices in the
rehabilitation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury patients’

Snappy, eh? My younger brother (currently on a gap year in New Zealand) asked if I had switched to medicine!

In brief, the project is a system to provide physiotherapists with information on how effectively their patient is performing exercises – specifically, patients who have torn a particular ligament in their knee. This will be achieved using wirelessly transmitted data from a number of sensors, from which the motion of the joint can be accurately derived then analysed.

Despite the medical slant (which isn’t exactly top of my list of interests), I am really fired up about this project. I like tasks that are complicated technically, and this is starting to look like one of those. Therefore I can see two things happening in the next 6 months: firstly, I will enjoy making the system work no end; plunging deep into the intricacies of the task and working hard in an attempt to make a quality product. Secondly, I will rapidly go out of my depth and flounder as the genuine complexity of various aspects of the project become apparent.

I’m quite chuffed I managed to hold that metaphor together… in fact, on that note I think I’ll finish.

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