Tactile Design Robot

Updated 5/1/16


 A brand new robot, designed to test out the concepts of using insect like antennas and small mammal whiskers to assist in internal home navigation. Only six inches in diameter, it is the perfect size for our robot arena test area and will be right for upstairs testing in the home environment. All programming is done using CCS-C.

The Process of home navigation needs every advantage it can get for the blind and helpless robot which only seeks to fulfill its daily task. Here, we are going to demonstrate using the new whisker robot - TDR - this concept and explain in detail and demonstrate with a video clip the process of "Wall Following" as implemented with not bumpers, but with whisker on the front of the robot. The basic concept is this: To help a robot get from one location to its destination, you can use the walls and solid surfaces in a home to find other locations that are also near the walls. In this way for example, a roving trash can robot can move from its normal home in the bathroom, over to the dump point in the kitchen and back by simply "feeling" its way along the walls to get to the two destinations!

Consider for example you are trying to get from the bedroom to the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a snack. Without turning the lights on in the pitch dark, how would you do it? The answer is that you would feel along the walls - having a mental map in your mind of what the house looks like - and eventually, maybe after tripping on a shoe get there. When we send a robot on a similar routine, we also have to keep sharp for obstacles in its path, and have enough intelligence to either get around them or return to base. Lets now illustrate with PIC'y the Robot how this works. (PIC is the type of microcontroller brain chip in our robots)

 Left: Here inside the 2 x 4 foot robot arena the robot is somewhere in the middle and needs to get to the green target. That may be the first of several destinations or perhaps the plants to water. But this is what You and I see when we look at the problem!

 Left: What the robot "sees" because it is blind and only has feelers is this view - Nothing. It doesn't know how big the room is, and even where the target is. How will we get there? Read on gentle reader...

 Left: First the robot moves forward and starts looking for any type of touching of the ends of its feelers.

 Left: Once a contact is made, the robot will turn the correct direction to align itself with the wall based on which feeler touched first.

 Left: Now aligned to the wall, the robot can proceed to follow it because it knows its on the right side.

 Left: To do this, we move forward AND back right at the same time.

 Left: When the side feelers touch, the wall has been found again, but now several inches down from where it started.

 Left: This process is repeated over and over and the path it takes here in red shows its advancing motion along the wall.

 Left: Even if the wall turns, it will follow.

 Left: The target is dead ahead. As long as its against the wall, it will always find it.

 Left: The robot must be able to recognize it has found the target by say floor color or a light beacon. But by wall following it will eventually get there!

 Left: In the robots mind, this is what IT sees - no walls, no boundaries just points it touched along the way. It is as if you have found the kitchen and now can have a snack!

Video Clip on YouTube
 Left: Here is a short clip showing the robot in the arena doing what is described above. Notice that when it gets to a corner, it knows just which way to turn.

Previous Uploads on this robot:

Intro page 1
First 4 whisker functioning!
Corner escape sequence