It has been 10 months since I last posted anything here. I have been pretty busy finishing my degree, but fortunately I had a chance to build some robots in class this year.
In the fall semester, I was part of a group of 6 people that built an object-picking robot. It used a Polaroid sonar sensor to detect an object from up to 10 meters (35 feet) away, and then used a Sharp IR sensor (mounted on the arm) when it got within a fairly close range (I think 30 cm, but I can't remember). All of the motors and sensors were controlled by an Altera UP-2 board mounted on the robot, which we programmed using VHDL.
The project turned out to be a great success for us and we aced the class. This was my first real robot building experience and I'm quite pleased with it. I am also glad that it happened in a classroom setting because I was (and still am) pretty new to this, so at least I had some knowledgeable people around me to answer some of my questions.
So now that I have that behind me, I'm looking forward to starting a project of my own this summer. I still have a Motorola microcontroller (M68HC12) sitting in my office from last year which I could put to good use.