Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thinking About Future Posts

Two areas that I'm going to be researching for future posts will be locomotion and robot muscle; specifically those types of each that will be adaptable to the needs of a robot harvester/tender.

Regarding modes of locomotion, I've already concluded that a walker will be the best all-around option for a harvester/tender [1],[2].  I've been looking at both hexapod walkers and robot lizard walkers and comparing their motion to that of actual lizards.  Three things stand out immediately.  First, real lizards have feet; hexapod walkers don't. Second, a real lizard's elbow moves horizontally, while the elbows on hexapod walkers move vertically.  And third, hexapod walkers have rigid torsos while a real lizard bends its spine from side to side as it moves.  What does all this mean?  I don't know.  Hopefully, with some research, thought, and time, I can arrive at some answers.

Once the mode of locomotion for a robot harvester/tender has been decided upon, the next step in design is to specify the type of actuator (robot muscle) that can be used to implement this motion.

Regarding possible candidates for robot muscle, to date there are no good candidates!  But the first step in narrowing down the set of most likely candidates is to start a list of the constraints that a viable candidate for a robot harvester/tender’s muscle must satisfy. 

Next, the question of our robot harvester/tender’s brain needs to be addressed.  Whatever computer system ends up being used to control a robot harvester/tender, it will still be held to the same constraints, in terms of size, weight, power consumption, cost, and etc., that the rest of the robot design will be held to.  But here lies the design challenge; there are no currently available computer systems that fit these constraints! 

Lastly, the question of fabrication methods: if/when robot harvester/tenders take their place in the farming industry, they will need to be produced by the 100K’s quantities.  They will need to be fabricated in a way that makes them cheap to make but still robust in use.  The modern auto industry has been addressing this exact issue for years, so a good place to start would be to look at how cars are designed and built.

[1] Agricultural Robots: Locomotion, Walker, Crawler or Wheels?
[2] Dancing Robots vs Robot Dancing

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