We present a computational design system that allows novices and experts alike to easily create custom robotic devices. The core of our work consists of a design abstraction that models the way in which electromechanical components can be combined to form complex robotic systems. We use this abstraction to develop a visual design environment that enables an intuitive exploration of the space of robots that can be created using a given set of actuators, mounting brackets and 3d-printable components. Our computational system also provides support for design auto-completion operations, which further simplifies the task of creating robotic devices. Once robot designs are finished, they can be tested in physically simulated environments and iteratively improved until they meet the individual needs of their users.
What has eight legs, a tail, and is powered by an Arduino Mega? The ClearWalker, of course!
This Strandbeest-style walker employs two motors, controlled by individual H-bridge relay modules to traverse forwards, backwards, and slowly rotate to one side or another via a hesitating leg motion. You can see how the electronics (including a bunch of LEDs) were integrated into this build in the video below.
If you’re familiar with the Segway or other vehicles that balance in what is known as an “inverted pendulum” configuration, you may think that while interesting, creating something similar would be too complicated or out of your budget. Though perhaps still not simple, Joop Brokking takes you through his design for this type of bot in the video seen here, making it accessible if you’d like to build your own.
The robot, which will cost about $80 in parts, uses two stepper motors for greater movement precision than could be had with normal DC models, and employs an Arduino Pro Mini, along with an MPU-6050 accelerometer/gyroscope for control. It can be driven around by a Wii U-style nunchuck, which transmits to the robot via an Arduino Uno and wireless transceiver module.
Building robots can be (relatively) easy if you’d like something to wander around your room and avoid obstacles, but for complicated control tasks, like shooting pool, things need more development. Engineer “Bvarv” has been working on just such a robot, which currently exists as a one-sixth scale model.
Though it’s not currently capable of playing the game, the device uses some interesting tricks, including a frame supported by a pattern of increasing-diameter pieces of wood, a custom bearing made out of slingshot ammunition, and limit switches to control the billiard bot’s orientation.
For this project, Bvarv employed a pair of Arduino Unos and a PixyCam vision system, along with some servos, belts, and gears. While we may still be a few years away from a full-scale robotic opponent, you can check out the entire build over on Instructables and follow along with his progress in the videos below.
If you want to build a robot that moves across the ground, the normal options are wheels or legs of some kind. Maker “joesinstructables,” however, decided to do something a bit different. He created a versatile, slithering system, which he calls the “Lake Erie Mamba.”
He put a dozen Arduino Mega-controlled servos together in a reptile configuration to allow the robot to move via serpentine motion (like a normal snake), rectilinear motion (like a worm), or sidewinding (which snakes use in shifting terrain). It can also twist itself into a wheel and roll in this rather unnatural, though quite interesting way.
The Lake Erie Mamba contains 12 segments, each consisting of a servo motor, a C-bracket, a side bracket, a wire clip, and a set of LEGO wheels. The reconfigurable robot is not only controlled using a four-button key fob remote, but can move about autonomously via an IR sensor as well.
If you were going to make a robot with five servos, many Makers would make a robot arm with them and call it a day. HomoFaciens, however, who is known for making amazing machines with minimal tools and improvised materials, instead made something that seems to be a cross between a delta robot and a Skycam.
His device, called “WinchBot,” uses three winches attached to an equilateral triangle frame to move a slider on a central pivoting square rod. This allows the robot’s 5-axis “hand” to be positioned within the robot’s work area. The servos are then tasked with keeping everything in the correct orientation, as well as opening and closing the gripper as needed.