Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Robonova steps up to the mark

My Robonova doesn't get out much these days. It's a time thing, see. If you're as time poor as me, you don't waste the precious little you do have on fiddling around with little humanoid robots.

Granted, like a good book, video game or movie, programming up your own 'droid can both be rewarding and a black hole for time. That's not a good analogy, really. Black holes make time stand still... anyhoo, you get the idea. It's an interesting hobby but vastly time consuming which is why I suppose I haven't written about it before.

Robonova, if you haven't met him before is a low-ish cost bipedal robot constructed out of servos, an aluminium frame and a micro-controller board to drive the servos.

Programming is done via a PC using the supplied Robo-Basic programming tool.

Now, out of the box, Robonova doesn't do very much, other than the stock moves supplied with the software. These moves are varied enough to give you an idea of what the little chap is capable of, but there are no sensors or AI out of the box like you might find in, for example, Robosapien.

But there's a wealth of information in the online robotics community if one cares to seek it out, and one of my future aims is to equip Robo with some sensors to facilitate some autonomy.

One task I was particularly keen to see was Robonova tackling some stairs. There are few videos on youtube showing this and those that are there are a little underwhelming. But credit is due to the roboteers involved for at least trying.

Which moves me on to the inspiration for my own set of moves: Honda's Asimo.

Here's one example of Asimo 'doing stairs'.

Now, despite costing probably millions of dollars, I can't help the feeling that, like Robonova, Asimo isn't just being asked to 'go up stairs', but rather he's been meticulously programmed to climb and descend the no doubt carefully designed staircase.

So, taking my cue from Asimo, I set about getting Robonova to 'do' a set of simple 18mm fibreboard 'stairs'. The result is below: