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Applied Research of Stage Robotics

Updated on April 25, 2019

Applied Stage Robotics.

A study in applied Robotics in usage of Stage Platforms: Utilization of Optical encoders.

By: Maxwell J. Walker

Faculty Mentor: Samuel Shanks.

Research Supported by: University of Minnesota Duluth UROP program.


This Research is to determine whether or not the use of Optical encoder’s utilizing infrared light can be used to accurately determine the positioning of a stage platform controlled by a single user on a computer.


This research was to determine whether it would be possible to use optical encoders to accurately determine the position of a robotic stage platform. This was done through small proof of concept that this research was funded by was done on a small robotic chassis, prior to implementation on a full size platform.


Methods I used for this study were using a robot chassis supplied by Ada-Fruit and then using optical encoder sensors with an attached photo-interrupter and a small wheel attached to the axle of the robot to with slots periodically cut into it to allow the infrared beam to be interrupted. This allowed for accurate measurement of the robot and it’s rotation of wheel in sense to position. I measured this by a light sensor on the photo-interrupter, as when it was interrupted the light would go dull indicating one interruption from the wheel and position sensor wheel that was mounted to the axle. Through this I was then able to indicate rotation of where the wheel was and how many revolutions had happened from the indicated interruptions from the code. As the wheel was a one to one ratio the indicated rotation out of twenty, for the twenty slots on the indicator wheel was easy to indicate based on the light interruptions. For how far a wheel rotated I simply divided it by twenty to indicate the distance of rotation. This then was proof of concept for this research as it was a successful way to indicate position.

Error analysis:

Error with infrared light as well as the style of photo-interrupter encoder I used is as follows; When using any sort of Infrared light the issue is that heat as well as light can affect this. On a stage platform where you have dancer’s as well as stage lights it is easy to conclude that error could be found from either the human body temperature creating inaccurate function on the sensors, as well as stage light interrupting the infrared beams as stage lights give off a massive amount of heat. These errors can be correct by using other measurement tools such as more concrete methods of tracking rotation and position such as the utilization of magnetic fields where this could massively decrease the error coefficient of each one of these where you utilize both types of sensor.

Other Applications for this research:

This research is in direct relation to autonomy meaning that it can easily be removed and then applied to automobiles or military applications. Through this we can remove people from danger by creating autonomous resources as well as autonomous vehicles on the battlefield eliminating the need for soldiers on the field.

Works cited:

Muthuramalingam, T., Rabik, M. M., Saravanakumar, D., & Jaswanth, K. (2018). Sensor Integration-Based Approach for Automatic Fork Lift Trucks. Sensors Journal, IEEE, 18(2), 736-740. doi:10.1109/JSEN.2017.2777880

“Optical Encoders.” What Is an Encoder ?, Optical Encoders,

Martin, F. G. (2007). Real robots don’t drive straight. Retrieved from American Association for Artificial Intelligence:

Winter, Brian. “Encoders.” How Optical Encoders Work..., Nidec Industrial Solutions,

Roma Rico Formalejo, F. (2017). Infrared (IR) Sensor-based Line-following Mobile Robot using Xilinx CoolRunner II Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD). In: Unpublished.

TCS34725 Datasheet. (2012). adafruit-color-sensors/downloads. Retrieved from

Hallbook. Honeywell, 2012,

This Research was support by the Undergraduate Research and Outreach Program through the University of Minnesota.


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