This is a robotic system that is controlled using a GUI running on a Laptop. The user can send commands to the robot using the xbee attached to the laptop and can also receive the data about speed, distance travelled, temperature and Gas content of the area where the robot is currently placed. The rover also has headlights which can be turned on if needed. The rover can also climb the stair. The software can also display the camera feed from on-board camera (so far this feature works with wired camera, all other features are wireless).The software also saves the data collected while running the robot into an Excel file which can be accessed any time later for any analysis and graph plotting.
There are many robotic systems that I have seen on DIY websites but none can receive the data and have the set of features this one has.
During my engineering I came across many robots built by people around the world like shrimp, viper, Rhex, sand flea. This led me to indulge with robots. I was completely taken by the fascinating world of machines after listening to the makers on TED, reading about making things in Make: and watching DIY Youtube videos.
With the passing years one of the issues that I have seen become prominent is terrorism. There is a growing threat of being hit and when you get hit there is a loss of lives. Most modern forces use robots to counter terrorists. They send in a robot inside the terrorist hideout and obtain vital information about the number of terrorists and hostages, location of hide out and other information. Which helps them to act better when the soldiers go in to neutralize the threat. Having such system can make the task easier and can save the lives. But such gadgets are usually in the hands of elite forces as economics and other factors hinder accessibility. However, I think that the lives of people and soldiers fighting the terrorists are equally important irrespective of their origin. So I wanted to make an open source and cheap system so that these can be more easily accessible to the people who are trying to fight and protect us. And more lives can be saved.
Also there can be situation like leakage in nuclear reactor as we saw in Japan: A mobile robot that can go in and monitor the radiation can be handy.
What did you learn from making this project?
During my college days I started with line followers and robots controlled by wires, mobile phones, and it took me a long time and many, many failed attempts before I could finally make this robot. I have learned about controlling motors, communicating using wireless modules, and writing software.
What challenges did you come across when building it, and how did you fix them?
It has been a long journey from making a line follower to reaching here. To make this system up and running I not only had to have an understanding of writing software for the Arduino and for the GUI on the PC, but I also needed to learn and design a PCB to, distribute power, control servos, motors, gather sensor data, and transmit it. There was no prebuilt PCB in the market that I could have used achieve my goal so designing it under the constraints that I had was a difficult task.
The first constraint was the limited space in which I had to route my components as it has to be placed on the small space on the robot. To add to the difficulty I had to route for through hole components which take more volume than SMD components; SMD components were not easily available around me. Usually sellers do not entertain buyers until there is a large order. The sources where I could have got some were too expensive and I was tight on budget.
One of the features of this robot is that it can climb stairs and to get this functionality I needed a chassis that is designed for administering to this task. There was a chassis named Multi-chassis rescue platform that could do the job for me, but it was not available in India, so I requested one DIY shop owner to import it for me. He agreed to do so on full advance payment and no return.
Once I was up and running with the system the next challenge was to build an enclosure which could hold the electronics. I had experience with designing and working with 3D printer during my first job. Which came in handy and I was able to build a box and a servo holder. This servo holder is kind of universal holder which can hold different servos and there is no such design available in the market.
Design is as available at Thingiverse
Would you change anything if you were to make it again?
Yes, I would like to implement wireless camera, traction control, etc.