TrackForce is a project designed to help #flattenTheCurve through the use of mechanics, electronics, and complex computer algorithms. The device addresses the large-scale usage of shopping carts, door handles, tramps, trolleys, and other types of carts which propagate the virus despite basic sanitization. As such, the TrackForce device was made to minimize surface contact, and this led to the development of a clip-on module that allows contact-free usage of such carts controlled by the user’s hand movements. This idea draws inspiration from science fiction theories like telekinesis, force fields, and The Force from Star Wars, primarily with the intuitive control that we implemented into TrackForce. 

The project itself comprises the mechanical actuators that move the cart and control the swerve for turns, the electrical components consisting of an onboard microcontroller that manages all sensor data and the closed-loop control of the actuators, and communicates with the main processing unit which controls the infrared camera used for hand motion detection, and lastly two scripts running PID control and Kalman filtering algorithms for accurate data. The infrared camera detects hand motions and the main processing unit interprets the data and sends a signal to the microcontroller (Arduino) via a serial port followed by local execution of actuator functions. For example, gyroscope based correction was used to prevent deviation from a straight path, and an ultrasonic was used to prevent collisions.

TrackForce consists of various mechanics and electronics that work together to bring this hack alive. TrackForce’s main frame is constructed with aluminum bars held together by steel screws and nylon nuts to increase efficiency of weight and strength. The omni wheel is driven by a steel shaft that is directly attached to 2 7.2V motors that are on a Y-cable. The swerve was controlled by another 7.2V motor on a 1:5 torque ratio to allow for a steady turn. All of this is attached to 4 flaps of aluminum bars that are on hinges that can easily wrap around the bars of the carts, creating a secure, robust connection.

The demo will show a model prototype that highlights the key working principles and logic. A developed product will have a more compact design, a more sustainable power source, and will be integrated in one board. Heavier applications will require stronger and more reliable motors to carry the load. Additionally, the programs will be further improved for reduced latency, smoothness, and maneuverability. These developments open the possibility for this product to extend its contact-free approach to contact-free door handles, heavy item transportation. TrackForce TRACKS your hands and gives you the FORCE.

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