Monday, May 16, 2016

Building a Basic Robot

A few months ago, when I was travelling out of town, I picked up a couple of gifts for my kids.  For my nine year old I bought a very simple robotics kit, as shown below.


It's a small robot that when put together, travels along the floor and changes direction when it strikes an object.  When opening the box, here's what the robot looks like prior to construction.


Very cool!  Not complicated, but not too simple such that it wasn't interesting to build.  We were able to get a good look at the motor and how it moves gears to move the robot.  Once put together we turned it on and placed it on the floor and let it do its thing.

video

You'll notice my kids a couple of times nudging it out of a corner with their feet/hands.  They actually didn't need to do this.  After a moment or two of being stuck, the robot frees itself. 

Is this a *smart* robot?  Not really.  The motor is offset in a sphere, so when the motor is turned on it rotates in the sphere, continually changing the center of mass of the sphere.  This is why the robot changes directions at random and when hitting objects.  So it's not a smart robot, but still fun to play with!

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