Over the last few months I’ve been working on a robotic platform. It’s been slow going and it’s still in the design stage but the plan is to create a mobile, rover type autonomous robot. I’ve spent most of the time so far thinking about how it’s all going to fit together, but have made some progress over the last couple of weeks towards getting the basic motor drive system working and tested.
Photos from the initial work I’ve completed can be found in my photo gallery.
I am no mechanical engineer, and I don’t have a decent workshop to build hardware in so I didn’t attempt to build the chassis myself. Instead I purchased it, along with the motors and wheels from Lynxmotion. Similarly, the motor drivers (internal to the chassis) were purchased from Pololu, another decent place for robotic parts.
I intend to design and build custom electronics for the main controller on the robot, based around the Atmel ATmega128 microcontroller, but at this stage I am using a Ethernut 2.1b board from Egnite to fill in for now. I’m also using their Ethernut RTOS to make software development simpler.
The final system will be autonomous, meaning it won’t require any connection to a computer to operate, it will just do its own thing. But for now I am using a Bluetooth serial adapter from Brainboxes for debugging and control – this thing is in the very, very early stages of development!
The robot as shown in the gallery has no collision sensors, no motor speed control sensors or any of the other things I want to add to the final platform like a digital compass or video camera on a pan/tilt platform. All this will come at some time later.
Below is a short clip (requires Quicktime) of the robot driving around under my control via a Bluetooth connection to my Mac.