What's new and current state of the Vitulus project
I had no time to update website and youtube in last months. It doesn't mean I had no time to continue in Vitulus developement.
I upgraded the OS and ROS from Ubuntu 16.04 and ROS Kinetic to Ubuntu 20.04 and ROS Noetic. I been considering move to ROS2, but I missing there some packages I using and a lot of things in ROS2 are done in the different way it mean much more changes, so I decided to wait some time, but this step will be necessary.
Now the Vitulus get four driven wheels. This helps him in rough terrain and in overcomming of obstacles. There are small problem with lateral force on wheels when the robot is turning. I solved this problem partly with new rubber tires, but will be better to redesign the wheel supports and wheel units to be more rigid.
Thru the summer I been testing the localization in map. I've tried a lot of configuration combinations and spent a lot of time, but it still not what I expected. The robot is usable in outdoor navigation when travel on known path, especialy when move on same path as use when making the map. The problem is in empty space without the obstacles in near and when the sun is shining directly to depth cam. This is not enough to navigation be usable for lawn mower. Maybe I missed something important. If you think so, tell me please. Longer time I been planning add the GNSS-RTK module for outdoor navigation, but I wanted try RtabMap + D435 + T265 first. So now is the time for satelite navigation.
Other I changed is new power module. It control the battery charging and power for the robot. It is more sofisticated than the first version, but in design are some mistakes and need some post-production changes, it is the reason why I don't published the files. I' using it in Vitulus 4WD and is working, but I plan to change the whole design to be modular and more universal.
Power module v2
Last but not least the redesigned mower unit. Now the robot is able to control the rpm of cutting blade and the height of mowing thru the ROS messages. This part is working well and waiting for long term test. Is made from plastic and I'm currious how will be going after the mowing few thousands square meters.
I have android app to control the robot, this app is good for some basic tasks, but for the more comfortable usage I developed Web UI based on web browser. It is not finished, but looks promising and decide to use it as main control interface and continue in development.
What will be next?
So I have two main goals for this year I want to done. First one I mentioned, it is GNSS-RTK for outdoor navigation. Second one is new Wheel unit. I want to redesign the Wheel unit to be more rigid and I want to replace the Dynamixel servos. This servos are heritage from Turtlebot and are used on their limits. Currently is it working solutions, but I want to get the Vitulus be faster and stronger. I been experimenting in last months and I show you soon, what I decided to do.
I will continue in publishing finished parts of this project or the parts i will considering to be usefull for others.
Some of you contacted me with questions or want to build the Vitulus for your self. Currently I not sure if it is good idea to do that if you are not decided do it for fun and to learn something. It is not cheap hobby. On the beggining of this project I've been expecting much shorter time to finish, and still remain some problems and some robot's parts probably will be redesigned.
But if you are still intrested, then contact me. I will support everyone who want to involve to this project.
Stay tuned, final state of developement is near, and it's will be new beggining, because there will be room for new accessories and functional improvements. I look forward to it.