Every robot hobbyist dreams about building a Segway type robot at one point or another. Some of us try a bit, then come to the realization that the task is beyond us, so we give up and move on to another project. But once in a great while, some lone robot hobbyist is either too stubborn to give up, or to busy to stop and realize how difficult the task might be, and they actually manage to make it happen.
Sprocket2Cog (aka Sean Jefferies) is one of those rare people that is too busy to realize how impractical some of his brainstorms are, and some how he usually figures out, by hook or by crook, how to get them working. He’s like a human version of Wiley Coyote with his box of specially ordered tricks and gadgets from A.C.M.E. Like Wiley, Sprocket frequently runs right off the edge of the cliff chasing the roadrunner, only this time he doesn’t fall.
As we reported a while back, Sprocket got his hands on one of the sweet new Viper robot kits from Microbric in Australia. The kit looks really great, and we hope to have a review about it to post on Robots Dreams soon.
Keep in mind that the Viper kit was intended as a showcase for the Microbric robotics approach, and allows you to build several different wheeled robot configurations. Most of us would follow the instructions, and build one or two of the suggested Viper designs. They look fast, and sexy – like a dark blue robot race car.
The Vbot keeps itself automatically balanced on two wheels.
But Sprocket, never one to be content just following the package instructions, decided to hack his brand new Viper kit into a new, Segway like robot design he’s called the Vbot. He’s still in the early stages, but within a couple of hours he had the Vbot balancing on two wheels just like he hoped it would.
He’s documenting the whole process on his weblog (see link below), and has posted the source code on the Microbric Viper forum. It appears from reading his posts and watching videos of the Vbot in action, that he’s used an approach similar to the Legway – the famous LEGO Segway clone. He hacked some LED emitters and sensors from the Viper line follower add-on kit and is using them to sense the distance to the ground.
Here’s what the Vbot looks like in action so far:
Of course, he’ll need to enhance the software to have the Vbot do more than just balance in place, but it appears that a lot of that can be done in software since he’s already done the proof of concept testing.
I wonder what he would do if a big wooden crate from A.C.M.E. Robotics suddenly appeared on his doorstep. . .