Drexel New Rover University freshman building

Andrew DeLuca has just started his freshman year at Drexel University as an electrical engineering student, but he’s already making waves in the engineering world. He hopes to earn even more before he graduates.

DeLuca is in the early stages of designing and building a rover, called the LR-2 Trojan, that can perform precision movements and tasks, from placing seeds to dismantling improvised explosive devices. He has just completed a six-month internship at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and originally wanted to build a prop for a rover that already existed. After designing the prop, he and his boss at Lunar Zebro made a joint decision to build a new rover instead.

The beginning of the process of designing a specialized robot is just a brainstorming session. DeLuca said he wrote down ideas on a whiteboard, including what he wanted the robot to do, its limitations, goals, and what’s plausible. It’s a lot of scribbling and scratching, he says. Next, he came up with a chart of the robot’s basics.

“I want a robot that can move around, I want it to have an attachment so it can place things precisely, and I want it to have storage capacity so I can fill it with just a few almost anything,” DeLuca said. . “Then I sketched it and transferred those sketches into design software called Fusion 360, and from there you can model different things like speed, acceleration, torque, etc.”

The Trojan LR-2 rover is named after the Trojan horse because of its ability to store many smaller objects inside. Its specific use is to defuse landmines, DeLuca said. In war-torn countries, improvised explosive device (IED) remnants can be scattered on the ground, and currently mine-sniffing dogs and military personnel will sweep a field for hours trying to detect IEDs. . It is dangerous and time-consuming work that can result in the death of canine and human workers.

“Essentially, we attach multiple IED detection sensors to the rover to help the rover pinpoint the precise location of IEDs in the area, at which point the rover can place a small explosive charge and dismantle or destroy the IED,” DeLuca said. “These explosives give off certain aromas that dogs are trained to detect. These sensors are already in use.

Once the rover finds an IED, it can plant a disabling device next to it, walk away, and trigger the disabling. The anti-personnel mine will be completed without any living beings approaching it.

“We save lives, time and money, and you can send a fleet of these rovers to clear a field that would take a long time to clear,” DeLuca said. “There are so many opportunities with this rover because it’s the first of its kind. It can be used for anything that requires precision movements, like in research and development. If you put a team to discover a cave, you want to know what is in the cave and find out what is in the environment around it, such as minerals and gases.You can make the rover go place sensors and then track that data without having to put anyone at risk.

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