Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Self Navigating Microbric Viper Robot

Hey folks,

After several days of hard work, I've managed to turn my Microbric Viper robot into an intelligent mobile robot, which moves around my house and avoids obstacles along its way! This time, I've mounted a laser based obstacle detector on top of a servo. So, now the robot is able to scan its surroundings before making a move. This project is still based on the principles working behind my autonomous RC car project. However, unlike the autonomous RC car, now more than half of the robot's brain resides within the robot itself. The part of the brain which lies in my computer makes only one crucial decision of whether it is safe to move forward or not. Based on this Yes/No decision, the robot decides how it should maneuver itself in order to avoid the obstacle in front of it. For example, if the computer detects an obstacle, it tells the robot to stop. Then, the robot starts scanning the area by rotating the obstacle detector. During the scan, if the computer finds a place with no obstacles in close range, it tells the robot to move forward again. Check out the video above to see it in action!

I've made some hardware modifications on the Viper robot for attaching the laser pointer. Watch the video below. In this video, I'm controlling the Viper robot (and its laser pointer), with a TV remote!:

The Iguanaworks IR transmitter I used in my previous project charges up a capacitor in order to provide a range of up to 10-meters. This time, however, I wasn't getting very good mileage with the computer I was using. So, I built my own parallel port controlled IR transmitter using a DVD remote which came with my PS2. :) I'm using a simple, parallel port controlled transistor switch for turning the remote on and off. On receiving any IR pulse from the computer, the robot takes action. Yeah, I admit that its a bit of an overkill, but I had to do it!

Wow..this project was kinda difficult! I really had to work hard on it and my ass is really burning.....AARRRRGGHHHH.....I feel tired..I think I'll be taking a short break. :)

Keep sending me your thoughts and ideas. I really appreciate them. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying life... :)

- Ashish

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Laser Following Microbric Viper Robot

I've been playing around with the Microbric Viper robot construction kit over the last couple of days. The Viper uses a Basic Atom microcontroller which can be programmed in BASIC. These robots can also be controlled with a computer using an IR transmitter. I'm using an Iguanaworks IR tranceiver which works with a serial port for my projects.

Well, since I love webcams, I decided to turn my Viper into a simple laser following robot! I've mounted a small wireless webcam on top of the robot. The webcam, transmits video to my computer. My computer determines the position of the laser in the camera's field of view and tries to move the robot towards it. As far as the software is concerned, I'm using a modified version of my Autonomous RC Car code. Watch the video above. I think the next step could be to mount the camera on a servo motor. That way, the robot would be able to scan its surroundings by rotating the camera! I also plan to try object tracking with this robot. That would be fun!