A high-speed actuator, Arduino, code and a camera propels a football throwing machine into the future.
Students at Florida International University have taken the standard football throwing machine to a new level with some help from Progressive Automations. The drawback to the traditional throwing machine is its inability to fire the ball towards a target that moves back and forth across a field unless the machine is manually operated. Team AFTM has found a solution with the use of an Arduino microcontroller, linear actuators, and a laptop.
Team AFTM (Automated Football Throwing Machine) is made up of five members: Hital Patel, Steven Smith, Javier Olie, Yonel Jovin and Vernal Green. The team of students hails from the Florida International University's Electrical & Computer Engineering Program.
How it Works
A camera, along with a programming code developed by the team, is used to track the target and determine the location of the player. Once the location is determined, a laptop processes the images and sends the information to the Arduino microcontroller. The microcontroller tells the servo motor how to pan the throwing machine. Once the machine is in place, the wireless controller engages the linear actuator and the ball is pushed through the tires toward the target.
For a detailed explanation of this process and a demonstration, check out this link.
Want to learn more about the code the team crafted for this project? Check out this video.
The High-Speed Actuator
The team chose Progressive Automations' PA-15-6-22, a high-speed actuator with 6" of stroke and 22 lbs of force. As you can see in the video, the actuator was custom mounted at the back with a rod connected to the loader.
Most of the time, coaches will operate this machine. This can take away from their focus on the players, limiting their ability to focus on the task of coaching. This machine allows a coach to maintain more of their attention on the players and provide better feedback.
For players who want to practice, but have no partner, this machine can be operated by a single person. Player's no longer have to wait for a time when two people will be available for practice.
Way to go fellas. We're excited to see how this project pans out in the future. We hope you guys keep us up-to-date on your progress.