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Applied Robotics and CD-ROM guides you through the steps of creating a small, rolling robot. It is a practical, project-oriented book and includes projects on the mechanical platform, DC motor control, R/C servo control, sensory input, and microcontrollers. You will be introduced to all the challenging aspects of robotic systems including mechanical design, sensory systems, electronic control, and computer software intelligence. Along the way, you'll also learn about fuzzy logic, subsumption, and microcontrollers.



   Applied Robotics

Applied RoboticsApplied Robotics includes projects to build robot "brains" using both simple discrete electronics, as well as simple and advanced microcontroller systems. Robots are programmed in both assembly language and the fuzzy-logic robot language called Fuzbol. The Fuzbol CD-ROM comes with the book.

This book gives a great, project-oriented introduction to the field of robotics. It guides the beginner through the challenges of building a working robot and it will provide new ideas and techniques for the advanced builder. No single project in this book is very difficult; in fact, most of them are simple. Applied Robotics will have you building your robot in no time! 



Chapter 1: Introduction To Robotics
Robot - "A reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks." Robot Institute of America, 1979

Since mankind's earliest time, life and death have fascinated us. as has the possibility of creating new life through our own efforts. In a way, the early tales of the Golem (a clay creature brought to life through certain spells and incantations) mirrors both the creation of Adam brought to life from the dust of the earth and our own desire to build robots.

Of course, we didn't have the name "robot" for this creature until Karel Capec wrote his classic Rossum's Universal Robots in 1921. His machines, as in so many stories since, turned against their creators. Capec's "robots" were much like Dr. Frankenstein's monster, creatures created by chemical and biological rather than mechanical methods. The mechanical robots of popular culture are not much different from these biological creations. They look, act, and emote much like the humans they are designed to emulate. However, that isn't what robots are typically like.

The average robot today is used in the factory or assembly line and, at its anthropomorphic best, consists of an arm and a gripper, vaguely reminding us of a dismembered arm in service to an endless row of parts marching before it on the conveyor.

As hobbyists, we are not building Frankenstein's patchwork creature from spare parts dug up in the middle of the night, nor are we looking to recreate the high-precision, highly durable equipment used on the factory floor. We are here to learn, explore, and play. For our purposes a robot isn't a "specialized device with various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks." It is a machine that senses its environment and reacts to it independent of human intervention.

The main thread through this book is a small, wheeled robot that serves as the test platform for a variety of experiments in sensing the environment and making intelligent choices in response to it. The "intelligence" of this robot is below any measurable limit, yet through our efforts it will transform from a pile of inert parts into an entertaining "pet."

At a very basic level, a robot consists of:

  • A mechanical device, such as a wheeled platform, arm, or other construction capable of interacting with its environment.

  • Sensors on or around the device that are able to sense the environment and give useful feedback to the device.

  • Systems that process sensory input in the context of the device's current situation and instruct the device to perform actions in response.

Of course, this definition covers such mundane things as your home thermostat. We should have more fun than that!

Tools and Equipment
I know a man who built a baby's cradle using nothing more than a pile of wood and his pocketknife. It is beautiful and I can't imagine how he did it. Given the choice, I would use a different set of tools. While it is possible to create all of the projects in this book with a minimal set of tools and test equipment, the more tools you have the easier all of this becomes. The minimal tool set would include an electric drill and bits, small screwdrivers, small pliers, a wire cutter, wire stripper, soldering iron, and a multimeter. A better set of tools adds such things as an oscilloscope, higher-quality variable-temperature soldering iron, tweezers, and a third-hand vise. Whenever buying tools, get the best you can afford and you will never regret it.

Almost all problems can be defined using the black-box model of input, processing, and output. Without tools you have to guess at what is happening. Good tools give you good information. They take the top off of the black box and show you what is really going on. Since a project rarely works the first time, anything that helps with the debugging process pays for itself in time and frustration. When building projects, especially the microcontroller-based ones, a good sense of paranoia can be very handy. Trust nothing, rely only on what can be seen on the scope or through the readouts. Understand each chip in the project and know what to expect from each pin. Read the manufacturer's data sheets and try your best to understand them. And remember - nothing is ever entirely free of errors, so stay alert.

For electronics projects I recommend using something like the Global Specialties Proto-Board for all of the prototyping and testing (Figure 1-1). You can get this type of prototyping board at any electronics supply store, and they come in many different sizes and configurations. The one used in this book is a Global Specialties UBS-100 which has a connection pattern as shown in Figure 1-2. I like this board because of its two separate power distribution strips (one set on each side). If you use one with a different number of power strips, you will need to modify the board layouts for some of the projects. I always take a permanent felt-tip pen (such as a SharpieŽ) and mark the holes on the power strips, red for power and black for ground....

A good tool in any experimenter's toolkit is a pad of grid paper. Take plenty of notes and keep them forever.

Finally, a tool that is easily overlooked is the online or mail order catalog. Many parts can be had quickly through the mail, purchased from catalogs or off the Internet. Before you begin the projects in this book, I recommend that you find the on line catalogs or order the paper catalogs from these companies....

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction To Robotics
Chapter 2: Mechanical Platforms
Chapter 3: Power Supplies
Chapter 4: Electronic Control
Chapter 5: Adding Sense
Chapter 6: It's Alive! Simple Robot Behaviors
Chapter 7: Microcontroller
Chapter 8: MCU Senses
Chapter 9: Igor, Fetch Me Some Brains
Chapter 10: Fuzbol
Chapter 11: More Sense
Chapter 12: R/C Servos
Chapter 13: Pneumatics
Appendix A: Fuzbol Language Reference
Appendix B: Sample Programs
Appendix C: Conversions and Code References

311 Pages  



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