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[DPRG] Re: Contest Course ideas from RPL

Subject: [DPRG] Re: Contest Course ideas from RPL
From: Ed Koffeman edk at kinetric.com
Date: Sat Aug 12 11:46:45 CDT 2000

We need the pieces to lie flat on the floor, so just using ordinary plywood
probably won't be satisfactory.  Perhaps marine (5 -ply?) plywood would not
curl so much.

Rubber sheeting, indoor-outdoor carpet (almost no pile), or thin hardboard
(pressboard) are candidates.

Where pieces join, we will need to tape them together underneath or on top
to avoid gaps or steps.

If the covering is limp, we can roll it up and there is less likelyhood of a
curl causing a high spot or a step.

A stiffer material like a plywood might rock a bit on an undulating floor,
but if thin enough might conform well enough to fllow the floor.

At the Science Place, the floor is hard and flat, so almost anything will
work.  But on a regular concrete area there are undulations.

In general, I think realtively limp materials are best.

Whatever we choose should have enough body to it that it lies flat and
doesn't wrinkle up ahead of a robot or from someone walking on it.

The other option is to do like the fire-fighter course and have a floor that
has thickness, but that requires enough support under the surface to avoid
being damaged by heavy robots or people with sharp heels.  This would have
the advantage of controlling the joints more closely, and likely avoiding
any warping.

We leave open the option of using the existing carpet on the smaller course.
It won't be as much trouble to store it correctly in the smaller size, and
so avoid the wrinkles.

Criteria for evaluating flooring:

1. Must form a continuous (no gaps, no bumps, no steps) surface when being
used.

2. Must be a uniform color that contrasts with the walls and navigation
lines.

3. Must be cost-effective.  Either long lived or cheap.

4. Must allow robots and people traffic without deteriorating or moving out
of place.

5. Must allow taped lines to be applied and removed without damage.  This
means it may be best to use something that doesn't need to be painted.

4. Should have some surface roughness.  This helps with traction and reduces
specular reflection (shinyness), but also helps keep dust and dirt from
footprints being so obvious.

5. Should be easy and quick to prepare the course floor for use.  For
example, if we want to practice at a meeting.  Relatively less taping or
joining is better.

6. Should transport easily in a pickup truck..  This means it needs to be in
sections of about 4 ft. by 6 ft. or a roll.  Also needs to arrive undamaged.

7. Should store well.  For example, should not become unuseable from
humidity or high temperature.

8. Should be readily available so individuals can duplicate the course.

9. Should have characteristics like flooring typically found in a home or
office, so robots that work in a home environment will have good mobility on
the course.

Candidates mentioned:

Plywood - regular, marine
Hardboard - regular, black (baked?)
Poster board - black
Carpet - automotive (the current carpet), indoor-outdoor
garden cloth - black thin
tarpaper - (too dirty)
rubber horse barn mat (too expensive)
thin rubber mat
tile
linoleum
kids' play area interlocking mat (too expensive)


Well that's my straw man - everybody can chime in to revise the criteria.

I don't think we should spend any money unless the new material meets or
exceeds the present carpet's ability to meet whatever criteria we agree on.

Ed Koffeman













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