Robotics and Innovations Unit (RIU) is a special unit of research and development in the department of Electrical Engineering. Our vision is to be the region’s leading Robotics and Innovations Unit and obtain recognition in the Robotics Industry worldwide. This unit was introduced in 2014 so that Engineering Students can be involved into Research and Development (R&D) of Robotics at different levels with the hope of introducing new course units in the electromechanical areas of Electrical Engineering. Ndejje University designated two laboratories for the purpose of R&D (One at Main Campus and the other at Kampala Campus). Students and practitioners are always welcome to share in R&D for effective innovations in the area of robotics.
Robotics Engineering is a breeding ground for Creativity and Innovation for people with a background in Mechanical, Electrical, Computer science or Software engineering. Robotics Engineers may work in Agricultural, Medical, Manufacturing, and Military Industries among others. The need to promote robotics research and development in Uganda is profound hence the need for Ndejje University and specifically the Department of Electrical Engineering to position herself to fit within and fill the gap. The Robotic applications employed in industries are being assisted by human beings from different backgrounds. The self-autonomous machine “Robot” has not yet sufficed in Uganda.
Several projects that have been developed include:
A HUMANOID ROBOT
Developed and customized to perform enormously intriguing tasks. These include field patrols and workouts with aerobics.
VEHICLE LIKE ROBOT
Codenamed the “NDU BEE”, it was built to perform special tasks as was dictated by the rules for a contest in Nairobi-Kenya.
This Robot’s control mechanism includes PICs and ATMEGAs that are used to drive it. The PICs drive the main Vehicle (base) while the ATMEGA is used to control the ARM and the ARDUINO-NANO was to control the sensors. All the controllers are networked and synched together in a serial network. The Robot was designed to pick objects with an Arm which has 6 degrees of freedom i.e. 6 servo motors. The griping range is between 45mm to 95mm and a manipulation range of 330 degrees by 430mm.
It was exciting to receive an invitation to participate in the ROBOKEN CONTEST in Nairobi-Kenya. This exposed our students to what is happening in the region and provided networking opportunities.
ELECTRONIC DEVELOPMENT AND CONTROL KITS
The Unit has designed and fabricated a number of Electronic Development and Control Kits used mainly in the different robot projects still under development. The Unit also provides constant support to Students in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering on top of provision of supervision of final year projects.
Electronic boards under development
We are in the process of making a CNC for milling Electronic boards. It will design and build a small prototyping board that would work with the PIC24FJ128GC006 as well as one of Microchips DSPIC33EP256MU806 dsPIC series microcontrollers. The prototyping board will be designed with removable daughter boards for the microcontroller.
CNC Machine under construction
Responding to the Business, Technical and Vocational Education Training (BTVET) Subsector’s Strategic Plan of Skilling Uganda, Ndejje University’s Electrical Department is looking at building electronic KITs for other Universities and Technical Institutions to use as study KITs in the areas of Electromechanical. The unit intends to Design and provide specialized training in the areas of Robotics and Mechatronics.
ONGOING AND FUTURE PROJECTS
- Planning and Designing a Smart Traffic Light System.
This shall be controlled from a central place; the traffic officials will be able to switch to automated signal control where the junction controllers use the sensor data to guide traffic
- We are looking at developing Drones specifically for:
- Cartography (Surveying)
- Automated Pesticide and fertilizer spraying (Agriculture)
- Aerial research for atmospheric studies and climate change
- Develop Robots for:
- Military surveillance in disaster prone areas like landslides.
- Amphibious autonomous vehicle for research and surveillance under water (especially in floods, etc.)
- Development of building Management systems – this is in response to the growing need for home and office automations, including security systems.