GCB and the CloudSim Module

gcb_screen

Google CourseBuilder (GCB) [1] was chosen to handle all MOOC related functions. While the prototype uses basic authentication to connect to CloudSim, future versions could use a single Google account to login to the course and CloudSim.
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Deploying Gazebo Simulations in CloudSim

Testing out the Actuation Challenge for use in CloudSim requires launching a Simulator-Stable constellation from a CloudSim instance, connecting through SSH and cloning the cloudsim-ed-actuation package from there. The deploy script from Hugo Boyer [1] accepts the bitbucket username and project name where the repository resides.

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A Gazebo Plugin: The Battery Indicator

batt_indicator

The course prototype revolved around wheeled mobile robots. Simulation tasks and challenges featured a wheeled robot in a differential drive configuration which can be set up using different battery and motor pairs to observe how the chosen design affects robot movement. In the actuation challenge, four plugins were used. A World Plugin to keep track of the score; two Model Plugins, the differential drive controller and the battery plugin; and finally, the battery indicator, a visual plugin.
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Populating Gazebo Worlds

For the education challenge project to take shape, several components were needed to create a simulated world to play in:

  1. Gazebo Model Packages
  2. Gazebo Plugin Packages
  3. Gazebo World Files
  4. ROS Launch Files
  5. Additional Scripts

These files are organized into a Catkin workspace under the src directory. The main package contains the Gazebo world and ROS launch files with each model and plugin created as individual packages in the workspace. Additionally, for Gazebo to find the models created for the project, a setup.sh file needs  to be sourced so that the project’s gazebo models are included in the GAZEBO_MODEL_PATH environment variable.
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Towards a CloudSim-Based Learning Environment

Screenshot from 2014-02-21 22&%13&%07

CloudSim [1] is an open source web application used to deploy cloud based machines, currently through Amazon Web Services [2], that provide open source robotics tools such as ROS [3] and the Gazebo Simulator [4]. Being web based, CloudSim allows users to interact with robot simulations easily, reducing issues associated with both computer hardware and software compatibility. In effect, CloudSim allows its users to learn or try out open source robotic software with little need to setup their own system. This is especially useful for the curious hobbyist or in schools or universities that do not have a dedicated robotics laboratory to install ROS and Gazebo. An instructor or administrator with an AWS account can then use CloudSim to launch Gazebo simulations while learners can use gzweb [5] to view the simulation and IPython notebook  [6] to interact with the simulated models from a web browser. Alternatively, SSH access to the machines are also available.
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