Exploration Robotics

The Nyx series of robots are prototype autonomous exploration vehicles, all based on a common hardware and software platform. High-efficiency solar panels and battery systems allow these robots to operate completely self-sustained. Nyx 1 is a ground based prototype which was built as a pre-cursor to Nyx 2, the marine robot prototype capable of short nautical journeys.

Twitter

Nyx 2's in-built camera allows it to Tweet photographs with telemetry data overlaid.

Nyx 3 is being developed as a fibreglass vessel capable of operating indefinitely on open waters. Its challenge, to self-navigate from Melbourne, Australia to the coast of Antartica, a distance of 3190 kilometres. The journey will be broadcast on social media, by the robot itself, photographing the coast on arrival.

Nyx generates a stream of telemetry data which can be remotely tracked in real time using a dashboard application. Telemetry replay is useful in the further development of the software and it’s configuration. In-place software updates can occur safely while the robot is deep into its mission. The core software algorithms for routing and decision making are based on functional, differential mathematics, allowing the robot to respond to it’s conditions. Slowing when power levels are low, not wasting energy in rough seas, exploiting ocean currents etc.

Telemetry

The hardware platform is based on a the Raspberry Pi running the Oracle high-performance JVM. The platform features a 66 channel GPS, triple axis magnetometer and a high-definition video camera. Communications options include 4G wireless broadband and satellite communications with the Iridium constellation. Marine versions of Nyx utilise two Blue Robotics 4200 rpm thrusters capable of a total 4.72 kilograms of thrust.

The creator of Nyx has been giving a series of presentations at venues such as CoderDojo Melbourne and the Melbourne Java and JVM Users Group.

Applications for the technology, both direct and indirect, would include science, industry and IoT domestic devices.

Device drivers and utility code developed for the mission are available to the community as open source.

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