Skip to main content

Robot Inspiration Series #10: All-Terrain Autonomous Rovers

One of the first robots I tried to make without instructions, back in the RIS days, was an all-terrain autonomous rover. These robots are nice in that they don't have to be too hard to build or program, but they can have many challenges and thinking problems to overcome, and they can stimulate many creative ideas and designs. Although an all-terrain rover should technically be able to traverse any terrain, we're talking about NXT robots, so you might want to limit yourself to inside your house.

Since your robot needs to move around without you controlling it, you'll need to give it the capability to detect and respond to (or not be affected by) potentially problematic situations. Aside from the obvious one of walls and other simple obstacles, these may include:

- Steep dropoffs
- Short overhangs: sometimes a ledge or other object may block the top of your robot instead of the bottom. In this situation, a mechanism for detecting obstacles soley on the ground level would not be sufficient.
- Bumpy ground
- Steep ramps: sometimes the robot might go up a ramp that becomes so steep that the robot falls over. You'd need something that could detect this (for example, a touch sensor in the back that gets pressed if the robot tilts back too far)
- Obstacles in the back or on the sides of the robot: sometimes the robot might back up or turn into an obstacle (perhaps from avoiding an obstacle in the front). You'd need sensors to detect such objects.

One of the greatest difficulties I've found in building these robots is getting around the sensor and motor limitations. There can be so many things the robot needs to detect, but only four sensors and three motors are available per NXT Brick. You could try using multiple Bricks if you have them, or try to give each sensor multiple functions.

One way to make the robot travel is to simply make it move randomly while monitoring for problem situations and responding to them when they appear. If you wanted to go advanced, you might try to make the robot travel to a certain destination through terrain with random obstacles. Another idea would be to give the robot a task, like cleaning a floor, that it could do while moving around and avoiding obstacles.

-Jonathan

Popular posts from this blog

MINDSTORMS Retires!

2023 is the 25th Anniversary of the MINDSTORMS brand. For 25 years, MINDSTORMS has educated and inspired a generation of robot builders, both children and adults. Unfortunately, the LEGO Group decided to end the line on December 2022. Many ROBOTMAK3RS have been passionately involved with the development of MINDSTORMS through the MUP and MCP programs. Even with the newest Robot Inventor line, several ROBOTMAK3RS were invited to submit additional bonus models that were included in the official app. Regardless of the retirement of a major LEGO robotics product line, ROBOTMAK3RS continue to MAKE-SHARE-INSPIRE using all LEGO robotics platforms available to us. Here is the official statement from LEGO. Since its launch in September 1998, LEGO MINDSTORMS has been one of the core ‘Build & Code’ experiences in the company’s portfolio, carrying with it significant brand equity and becoming a stand-out experience for the early days of consumer robotics and leading to current Build & Code

Celebrating MINDSTORMS with a Remix Part 1

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we asked ROBOTMAK3RS to combine a LEGO set of their choice with a MINDSTORMS set. Here is what these five ROBOTMAK3RS came up with.  MINDSTORMS Chess Assistant by Arvind Seshan Overview: When you are new to chess, it can be a challenge to remember which pieces go where. Now, you can use machine learning and LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor to build a tool to help you learn where all the chess pieces go on the chess board. Sets used: LEGO® Iconic Chess Set (40174) and MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor (51515) Review: I really like how the chess set base can store all the pieces underneath and that the board neatly splits in half for handy storage. The chess pieces themselves are very sturdy and well built. My only criticism is the building of the box itself. It was quite difficult to see what pieces to use and since the entire box is made mostly of thin plates, it took a lot of time and patience. I would have liked the storage area to be sliding dra

Celebrating 25 Years of MINDSTORMS

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we take a trip through history. Please also visit ROBOTMAK3RS Community every week as we highlight different projects all through 2023 in celebration of the anniversary. Some of the early history is based on the content shared by  Coder Shah  in our  MINDSTORMS EV3 Community Group . Some of the text and links may have been edited from his original posts for consistency and clarity.  1984 - Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen watched a TV program called "Talking Turtle," where MIT professor Seymour Papert demonstrated how children could control robot "turtles" using LOGO, a programming language he developed. 1988 - The collaboration between MIT and LEGO resulted in LEGO TC Logo in 1988, which allowed students to control LEGO models using computer commands. The video shows Papert demonstrating TC Logo. 1990 - LEGO TC Logo was hampered since the robots you built had to be tethered to a personal computer. LEGO and MIT