A court littered with tennis balls provides a safety hazard to many athletes, and picking up those balls is time consuming and unpleasant. There is no automated way to collect these tennis balls; most ‘solutions’ consist of devices to make it easier to collect balls off the court. All these methods involve athletes wasting practice time to gather balls.
As tennis players and engineers ourselves, we decided to build an autonomous rover to take steps into solving this problem. Our system consists of a rover, raspberry pi, raspberry picamera, Arduino microcontroller, battery pack and a breadboard. The rover is the platform with which we will mount the simulations of the systems we designed. The systems we simulated are the pan and tilt device that holds the camera and the two servo motors that drive our rover.
After completing our project, we will have designed simulations that will be able to pan the camera across a tennis court, locate a tennis ball, adjust the camera until the ball is centered in the frame, move the rover towards this tennis ball, and adjust the position of the rover to within 10cm of the ball. The simulation will provide the first vital step in automating the process of locating tennis balls. The backbone of our code can be used in many situations like collecting golf balls or even soccer balls. Future research in this project will involve full implementation of our simulation onto our rover and the addition of a mechanical arm to physically pick up balls.