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Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Sensors and Robotics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021) | Viewed by 44262

Special Issue Editor

Departamento de Ingenierías Mecánica, Informática y Aeroespacial, Escuela de Ingenierías Industrial e Informática, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain
Interests: ICT applied to education; STEM education; cloud computing education; robotics and education; learning analytics; learning personalization; learning management systems; personal learning environments; mobile learning
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mechatronics and Robotics are well-known technologies that have become very popular in educational contexts. This is mostly motivated because of two main reasons. On the one hand, it is necessary to teach students how to make use of tools and platforms that they will apply in their future work. This can increase their employability and provide them with the proper knowledge background to succeed in the industry.

On the other hand, the use of Robotics and Mechatronics to solve educational problems has been shown to be a very efficient approach, especially because students are not defining a traditional solution but one that they can prove in a physical context. This facilitates developing what is known as 21st-century skills, which is one of the main aims of STEM Education. In addition, this kind of solutions helps to foster engineering and other necessary disciplines in pre-university education.

This Special Issue is therefore focused on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Innovations in the use of mechatronics and robotics for engineering education;
  • Good practices of use of robotics and mechatronics in education;
  • Studies on the most common devices, robots, sensors or actuators applied with educational proposes;
  • Case studies about the application of robotics and mechatronics in engineering education;
  • Assessing methods and tools for robotics and mechatronics application in education;
  • Robotics and Mechatronics in STEAM Education;
  • Students’ interaction with robotics and mechatronics in educational contexts.

Dr. Miguel Ángel Conde
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sensors
  • robotics
  • mechatronics
  • physical devices
  • education
  • STEAM education
  • STEM education
  • interaction
  • engineering education

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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27 pages, 6132 KiB  
Article
Quadcopters Testing Platform for Educational Environments
Sensors 2021, 21(12), 4134; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21124134 - 16 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5095
Abstract
This work focuses on the design and construction of an experimental test bench of three degrees of freedom with application in educational environments. It is constituted by a gyroscopic structure that allows the movements of a quadcopter to analyze the control systems. In [...] Read more.
This work focuses on the design and construction of an experimental test bench of three degrees of freedom with application in educational environments. It is constituted by a gyroscopic structure that allows the movements of a quadcopter to analyze the control systems. In this context, the main features of the mechanical and electronic design of this prototype are described. At the same time, the main characteristics with respect to existing platforms are highlighted in aspects such as: system autonomy, cost, safety level, operation ranges, experimental flexibility, among others. The possible controller design approaches for quadcopter stabilization can extend to many basic and advanced techniques. In this work, to show the operation and didactic use of the platform, the development of the controller for tilt angle stabilization under two different approaches are presented. The first approach is through PID control, oriented for undergraduate students with basic level in control theory. The second approach is by means of State Feedback, oriented to students with more advanced level in this field. The result of this work is an open test bench, enabled for the experimentation of control algorithms using Matlab-Simulink. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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15 pages, 1775 KiB  
Communication
Development of an Onboard Robotic Platform for Embedded Programming Education
Sensors 2021, 21(11), 3916; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21113916 - 06 Jun 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2780
Abstract
Robotics has been used as an attractive tool in diverse educational fields. A variety of robotic platforms have contributed to teaching practical embedded programming to engineering students at universities. However, most platforms only support content with a low level of programming skills and [...] Read more.
Robotics has been used as an attractive tool in diverse educational fields. A variety of robotic platforms have contributed to teaching practical embedded programming to engineering students at universities. However, most platforms only support content with a low level of programming skills and are unlikely to support a high level of embedded programming. This low association negatively affects students, such as incomprehension, decreased participation, dissatisfaction with course quality, etc. Therefore, this paper proposed a new robotic platform with relevant curricula to improve their effectiveness. The developed platform provided practical content used in mechatronics classes and the capability to operate a robot with a high level of embedded programming. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed platform, participants (undergraduates) examined course evaluations for educational programs based on the developed platform compared with the previous year’s class evaluation. The results showed that the proposed platform positively affects students’ intellectual ability (performance) and satisfaction in programming education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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20 pages, 13665 KiB  
Article
An Open-Source Scale Model Platform for Teaching Autonomous Vehicle Technologies
Sensors 2021, 21(11), 3850; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21113850 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3703
Abstract
Emerging technologies in the context of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) have drastically evolved the industry’s qualification requirements. AVs incorporate complex perception and control systems. Teaching the associated skills that are necessary for the analysis of such systems becomes a very difficult process and existing [...] Read more.
Emerging technologies in the context of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) have drastically evolved the industry’s qualification requirements. AVs incorporate complex perception and control systems. Teaching the associated skills that are necessary for the analysis of such systems becomes a very difficult process and existing solutions do not facilitate learning. In this study, our efforts are devoted to proposingan open-source scale model vehicle platform that is designed for teaching the fundamental concepts of autonomous vehicles technologies that are adapted to undergraduate and technical students. The proposed platform is as realistic as possible in order to present and address all of the fundamental concepts that are associated with AV. It includes all on-board components of a stand-alone system, including low and high level functions. Such functionalities are detailed and a proof of concept prototype is presented. A set of experiments is carried out, and the results obtained using this prototype validate the usability of the model for the analysis of time- and energy-constrained systems, as well as distributed embedded perception systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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24 pages, 7260 KiB  
Article
A Modular Multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Design Approach for Development of an Engineering Education Platform
Sensors 2021, 21(8), 2737; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21082737 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3926
Abstract
The development of multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has enabled a vast number of applications. Since further market growth is expected in the future it is important that modern engineers be familiar with these types of mechatronic systems. In this paper, a comprehensive [...] Read more.
The development of multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has enabled a vast number of applications. Since further market growth is expected in the future it is important that modern engineers be familiar with these types of mechatronic systems. In this paper, a comprehensive mathematical description of a multirotor UAV, with various configuration parameters, is given. A modular design approach for the development of an educational multirotor platform is proposed. Through the stages of computer-aided design and rapid prototyping an experimental modular multirotor (EMMR) platform is presented. Open-source control system and a novel EMMR enable students to create and test control algorithms for various multirotor configurations. The presented EMMR platform is suitable for students to expand their educational objectives in aerial robotics and control theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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24 pages, 3757 KiB  
Article
PL-TOON: A Low-Cost Experimental Platform for Teaching and Research on Decentralized Cooperative Control
Sensors 2021, 21(6), 2072; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21062072 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2775
Abstract
In this paper, we present the development of a low-cost multi-agent system experimental platform for teaching, and research purposes. The platform consists of train-like autonomous agents equipped with local speed estimation, distance sensing to their nearest predecessor, and wireless communications with other agents [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present the development of a low-cost multi-agent system experimental platform for teaching, and research purposes. The platform consists of train-like autonomous agents equipped with local speed estimation, distance sensing to their nearest predecessor, and wireless communications with other agents and a central coordinator. The individual agents can be used for simple PID experiments in a classroom or laboratory setting, while a collection of agents are capable of performing decentralized platooning with cooperative adaptive cruise control in a variety of settings, the latter being the main goal of the platform. The agents are built from low cost components and programmed with open source software, enabling teaching experiences and experimental work with a larger number of agents that would otherwise be possible with other existing solutions. Additionally, we illustrate with experimental results some of the teaching activities that the platform is capable of performing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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37 pages, 52568 KiB  
Article
MiniCERNBot Educational Platform: Antimatter Factory Mock-up Missions for Problem-Solving STEM Learning
Sensors 2021, 21(4), 1398; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21041398 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3067
Abstract
Mechatronics and robotics appeared particularly effective in students’ education, allowing them to create non-traditional solutions in STEM disciplines, which have a direct impact and interaction with the world surrounding them. This paper presents the current state of the MiniCERNBot Educational Robotic platform for [...] Read more.
Mechatronics and robotics appeared particularly effective in students’ education, allowing them to create non-traditional solutions in STEM disciplines, which have a direct impact and interaction with the world surrounding them. This paper presents the current state of the MiniCERNBot Educational Robotic platform for high-school and university students. The robot provides a comprehensive educative system with tutorials and tasks tuned for different ages on 3D design, mechanical assembly, control, programming, planning, and operation. The system is inspired to existing robotic systems and typical robotic interventions performed at CERN, and includes an education mock-up that follows the example of a previous real operation performed in CERN’s Antimatter Factory. The paper describes the learning paths where the MiniCERNBot platform can be used by students, at different ages and disciplines. In addition, it describes the software and hardware architecture, presenting results on modularity and network performance during education exercises. In summary, the objective of the study is improving the way STEM educational and dissemination activities at CERN Robotics Lab are performed, as well as their possible synergies with other education institutions, such as High-Schools and Universities, improving the learning collaborative process and inspiring students interested in technical studies. To this end, a new educational robotic platform has been designed, inspired on real scientific operations, which allows the students practice multidisciplinary STEM skills in a collaborative problem-solving way, while increasing their motivation and comprehension of the research activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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17 pages, 1526 KiB  
Article
A Novel Real-Time MATLAB/Simulink/LEGO EV3 Platform for Academic Use in Robotics and Computer Science
Sensors 2021, 21(3), 1006; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21031006 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5407
Abstract
Over the last years, mobile robot platforms are having a key role in education worldwide. Among others, LEGO Robots and MATLAB/Simulink are being used mainly in universities to improve the teaching experience. Most LEGO systems used in the literature are based on NXT, [...] Read more.
Over the last years, mobile robot platforms are having a key role in education worldwide. Among others, LEGO Robots and MATLAB/Simulink are being used mainly in universities to improve the teaching experience. Most LEGO systems used in the literature are based on NXT, as the EV3 version is relatively recent. In contrast to the previous versions, the EV3 allows the development of real-time applications for teaching a wide variety of subjects as well as conducting research experiments. The goal of the research presented in this paper was to develop and validate a novel real-time educational platform based on the MATLAB/Simulink package and the LEGO EV3 brick for academic use in the fields of robotics and computer science. The proposed framework is tested here in different university teaching situations and several case studies are presented in the form of interactive projects developed by students. Without loss of generality, the platform is used for testing different robot path planning algorithms. Classical algorithms like rapidly-exploring random trees or artificial potential fields, developed by robotics researchers, are tested by bachelor students, since the code is freely available on the Internet. Furthermore, recent path planning algorithms developed by the authors are also tested in the platform with the aim of detecting the limits of its applicability. The restrictions and advantages of the proposed platform are discussed in order to enlighten future educational applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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21 pages, 5545 KiB  
Article
Educational Mechatronics and Internet of Things: A Case Study on Dynamic Systems Using MEIoT Weather Station
Sensors 2021, 21(1), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21010181 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 4006
Abstract
This paper presents the design and development of an IoT device, called MEIoT weather station, which combines the Educational Mechatronics and IoT to develop the required knowledge and skills for Industry 4.0. MEIoT weather station connects to the internet, measures eight weather variables, [...] Read more.
This paper presents the design and development of an IoT device, called MEIoT weather station, which combines the Educational Mechatronics and IoT to develop the required knowledge and skills for Industry 4.0. MEIoT weather station connects to the internet, measures eight weather variables, and upload the sensed data to the cloud. The MEIoT weather station is the first device working with the IoT architecture of the National Digital Observatory of Intelligent Environments. In addition, an IoT open platform, GUI-MEIoT, serves as a graphic user interface. GUI-MEIoT is used to visualize the real-time data of the weather variables, it also shows the historical data collected, and allows to export them to a csv file. Finally, an OBNiSE architecture application to Engineering Education is presented with a dynamic system case of study that includes the instructional design carried out within the Educational Mechatronics Conceptual Framework (EMCF) to show the relevance of this proposal. This work main contribution to the state of art is the design and integration of the OBNiSE architecture within the EMCF offering the possibility to add more IoT devices for several smart domains such as smart campus, smart cities, smart people and smart industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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19 pages, 4452 KiB  
Article
A Distributed Vision-Based Navigation System for Khepera IV Mobile Robots
Sensors 2020, 20(18), 5409; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20185409 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2984
Abstract
This work presents the development and implementation of a distributed navigation system based on object recognition algorithms. The main goal is to introduce advanced algorithms for image processing and artificial intelligence techniques for teaching control of mobile robots. The autonomous system consists of [...] Read more.
This work presents the development and implementation of a distributed navigation system based on object recognition algorithms. The main goal is to introduce advanced algorithms for image processing and artificial intelligence techniques for teaching control of mobile robots. The autonomous system consists of a wheeled mobile robot with an integrated color camera. The robot navigates through a laboratory scenario where the track and several traffic signals must be detected and recognized by using the images acquired with its on-board camera. The images are sent to a computer server that performs a computer vision algorithm to recognize the objects. The computer calculates the corresponding speeds of the robot according to the object detected. The speeds are sent back to the robot, which acts to carry out the corresponding manoeuvre. Three different algorithms have been tested in simulation and a practical mobile robot laboratory. The results show an average of 84% success rate for object recognition in experiments with the real mobile robot platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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Review

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21 pages, 1020 KiB  
Review
Systematic Review on Which Analytics and Learning Methodologies Are Applied in Primary and Secondary Education in the Learning of Robotics Sensors
Sensors 2021, 21(1), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21010153 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 4628
Abstract
Robotics technology has become increasingly common both for businesses and for private citizens. Primary and secondary schools, as a mirror of societal evolution, have increasingly integrated science, technology, engineering and math concepts into their curricula. Our research questions are: “In teaching robotics to [...] Read more.
Robotics technology has become increasingly common both for businesses and for private citizens. Primary and secondary schools, as a mirror of societal evolution, have increasingly integrated science, technology, engineering and math concepts into their curricula. Our research questions are: “In teaching robotics to primary and secondary school students, which pedagogical-methodological interventions result in better understanding and knowledge in the use of sensors in educational robotics?”, and “In teaching robotics to primary and secondary school students, which analytical methods related to Learning Analytics processes are proposed to analyze and reflect on students’ behavior in their learning of concepts and skills of sensors in educational robotics?”. To answer these questions, we have carried out a systematic review of the literature in the Web of Science and Scopus databases regarding robotics sensors in primary and secondary education, and Learning Analytics processes. We applied PRISMA methodology and reviewed a total of 24 articles. The results show a consensus about the use of the Learning by Doing and Project-Based Learning methodologies, including their different variations, as the most common methodology for achieving optimal engagement, motivation and performance in students’ learning. Finally, future lines of research are identified from this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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Other

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25 pages, 480 KiB  
Systematic Review
Systematic Literature Review of Realistic Simulators Applied in Educational Robotics Context
Sensors 2021, 21(12), 4031; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21124031 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3725
Abstract
This paper presents a systematic literature review (SLR) about realistic simulators that can be applied in an educational robotics context. These simulators must include the simulation of actuators and sensors, the ability to simulate robots and their environment. During this systematic review of [...] Read more.
This paper presents a systematic literature review (SLR) about realistic simulators that can be applied in an educational robotics context. These simulators must include the simulation of actuators and sensors, the ability to simulate robots and their environment. During this systematic review of the literature, 559 articles were extracted from six different databases using the Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes, Context (PICOC) method. After the selection process, 50 selected articles were included in this review. Several simulators were found and their features were also analyzed. As a result of this process, four realistic simulators were applied in the review’s referred context for two main reasons. The first reason is that these simulators have high fidelity in the robots’ visual modeling due to the 3D rendering engines and the second reason is because they apply physics engines, allowing the robot’s interaction with the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics and Robotics in Future Engineering Education)
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