Robotics and the World/Robot Hardware

4. Robot HardwareEdit


Wheels Robot builders often find that the trickiest part of a robotics project is making the wheels. First you need to find a suitable tire/wheel combination, then you must figure out a way to attach a sprocket so that it will handle the torque of a geared-down drive motor.

Motors From the start, operating motors seem quite simple. Apply a voltage to both terminals, and it spins. But what if you want to control which direction the motor spins? Correct, you reverse the wires. Now what if you want the motor to spin at half that speed? You would use less voltage. But how would you get a robot to do those things autonomously? How would you know what voltage a motor should get? Why not 50V instead of 12V? What about motor overheating? Operating motors can be much more complicated than you think.

Sensors The light sensor uses a photocell that allows your robot to detect and react to light. With the light sensor, you can program a whole new range of capabilities to your robot. Design a simple tracker that follows the beam of a flashlight, or use a light sensor to help your robot to avoid getting stuck under furniture by making it steer away from shadows. You can even give your robot color vision by putting colored filters on different light sensors!