Balancing Robot goes Autonomous
We finally added the complete board stack to the mini-ISIS, to make mini-ISIS go autonomous! We mounted a pan-tilt camera head, so it can chase some toys like my tabletop challenge robot. It has a separate CPU board controlling the higher level functions. We have been dreaming about doing this for awhile, but we really only started the whole process about 2 weeks ago. One of the producers from Tech TV’s, The Screen Savers, ran into us at the Robolympics, and was asking “So what are you guys working on that we haven’t seen yet??” And we said, well, we’re working on mounting a camera on top of the robot, and his reply was “Thats cool! Can you have it done next week for the show?!?” A week later, it’s working, and ready for it’s debut on TV.
There were several major problems to be solved to make mini-bender autonomous with a camera on top.
- Mount a pan-tilt head on the robot
- Update the camera software and hardware from Tracker-bot, so that it was smoother, and could track faster.
- Build and tune a velocity-control algorithm so the robot could automatically adjust its tilt angle to achieve a constant wheel velocity.
- Write software to take the box tracking information, and convert that into the appropriate wheel geometry to steer and drive the robot toward the target.
Here are some video clips of the initial tests of some of each of these development components. Again, as with all my videos, these are all Windows Media Player 9.0 format:
|Pan-Tilt Camera Test (4.9 meg)- Video of the initial tests of the camera head, tracking the little red box from tracker-bot.|
|Driving Test (1.6 meg)- Early test of driving forward with constant velocity. The algorithm is still a little clunky and needs some tuning at this point, but it does make it across the kitchen, despite crashing into the noisy dishwasher|
|Steering Test (1 meg)- I needed to make sure that the robot could steer itself properly, and still maintain constant forward velocity.|
|Target Tracking (3.2 meg)- I took the robot to the club meeting only hours after finishing it. I mounted a little red target on the end of a stick, that the robot could follow around. Here is one of it’s first demonstrations at the Home Brew Robotics Club.|
|Children Tracking (2.4 meg)- A new member of the club showed up to the meeting, and little did he know that his red shirt would attract self-balancing robots|