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NI WorldClass - Senior Students Programming Mobile Robots Using NI Compact RIO

Contact Information

University:Various universities from Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Department:Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Mechatronics, Physics, Math
Team Members:Various Bachelor and Master students
Faculty Advisors:NI Germany employees from Event Marketing, Human Resources, Applications Engineering, Academic Team
Primary Email
Primary URL:
Primary Telephone Number:+49 (0)89 7413130

Project Information

Project Title

NI WorldClass - Senior Students Programming Mobile Robots Using NI Compact RIO

The NI Worldclass 2009 took place from March 10-15 in a venue located 120km south of Munich in the Austrian alps. An intensive application process addressing all universities across Germany, Switzerland and Austria started as early as April 2008. In December 2008 20 candidates were selected and invited to form the four teams of the NI WorldClass 2009. Customer education for LabVIEW Basic 1 or 2 was provided early in 2009 in order to have the candidates "up and running".

Parts List


Robotics PlatformEmbedded ControllerHost SystemSensors & Actuators
1x  Fraunhofer VolksBot® RT 3 3-wheeled mobile robot

1x   NI cRIO-9014 Real-Time Controller

1x   NI PXIe-8130 2.3 GHz Dual Core Controller1x  Stingray 146B AVT Camera Digital IEEE1394b
     Dimensions: 580 x 520 x 315 mm (l x b x h)1x   NI cRIO-9104 cRIO-Chassis 8 slots, 3 Mio. Gates1x   NI PXIe-1062Q 3-HE-PXI-Express-Chassis1x  MEMS Inclination Sensor
     Weight: 13kg (excluding control PC and batteries)2x   NI 9505 DC Brushed Servo Drive with Encoder Interface1x  NI PXI-6229 16-Bit, 250 kS/s, M-Series DAQ1x  Light Trap
     Wheels: 260 x 85 mm, 200mm caster-wheel1x   NI 9411 Digital Input, 6 Channels, 500 ns, +/- 5 to 24 V1x  NI PXIe-5673 6.6 GHz Vector Signal Generator1x  Strain Gauge Sensor
     Gear ratio: 74:11x   S.E.A. cRIO xLAN Module with switching function (100 Mbit/s)1x  NI SC-2345 Shielded Carriers for SCC Modules2x  Miniature servos
     Max. speed: 1,4 m/s
2x  NI SCC-SG04 Strain Gauge Input
     Max. Payload: 40kg
1x  NI SCC-AI01 Analog Input 2-Ch (42 V, 10 kHz)
2x Maxon Motors 150 W, DC,  shaft encoder, planetary gear: ratio 74:1
1x  NI CVS-1456 Compact Vision Systems, IEEE 1394


Use NI LabVIEW to program mobile robots that collaboratively master an obstacle course in only 5 days with team members you have never met before.


A pre-build motion control API and a remote control host program was provided enabling the teams to experiment with the mobile robot platform and executing basic motion commands. The API represented basic pre-compiled FPGA VIs that served as building blocks of all motion commands throughout the entire project. like Initialize, Load Constrains, Stop, Status, Straight Move, Turn Move, etc. without the need to program the FPGA immediately from the start.

Motion API_600.JPG

Figure 1: Motion API for NI WorldClass

Host Test Motion API.jpg

Figure 2: Host Application to Test Motion API for NI WorldClass

Over the course of five days all four teams needed to be able to develop an application running on the cRIO Real-Time system that was able to communicate with the Motion API running on the FPGA and at the same time receiving a bit stream with various process data. The bit stream contained position information for the individual robots and conditions of the various sensors and actuators. In order to have a flexible and maintainable system that could easily adapt to the ever increasing complexity of the overall system, al teams choose to develop a state machine. Different frame works for a state machine were designed but the common functionality across all teams included loading of xy-move coordinates, position correction and a master-slave behavior in order to be able to master the obstacle course in a collaborative apporoach with a partner team.


Figure 3: General State Machine Approach

Besides the robot program itself, several applications needed to be developed to interface with sensors and actuators, vision inspection, communication and visualization. All candidates were asked to volunteer for temporary sub-teams that focused on a particular challenge at hand and thus being able to deepen their skills and technical expertise. The results and work of the sub-teams were than integrated by all teams into their individual solutions.

    Vision Inspection.jpg

Figure 4: Vision Inspection showing Robot Positions


Figure 5: Visualization of Obstacle Course

NI WorldClass 2009 Impressions

Aktionsfläche 3D with Logos.JPG

Figure 6: Obstacle Course


Figure 7: Fraunhofer Volksbot R3 and NI Compact RIO

Videos of NI WorldClass 2009

Part of the challenges the candidates were facing was to create a team and project video. Below are the four videos created by the teams of the NI WorldClass 2009.

If links are broken please use the general youtube link for NI Worldclass:

Team Anne                                                                                                  Team Janne


Team Vroni                                                                                                    Team Toni


Ingo Foldvari
Area Sales Manager - US West Academic
National Instruments