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5 / Serpentronic: Build Your Own Robotic Snake
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Add a tilt sensor so that the robot will know when it has tipped over, and can then right itself Write a routine enabling the snake to roll over
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To see movies of the snake in action, go to the author s Web site located at wwwthinkboticscom
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Crocobot: Build Your Own Robotic Crocodile
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Crocodiles, alligators, and gharials are all part of a group of reptiles known as the crocodilians The bodies of animals in this group are covered in a tough, leathery skin that is strengthened with plates known as osteoderms, or bone skin Crocodilians are unable to sweat through their tough skin They keep themselves cool by resting with their mouths open, permitting moisture to evaporate from the mucous membranes Although modern crocodilians have an almost primeval appearance, they are actually quite advanced, possessing an elaborate, four-chambered heart similar to that of a mammal It is generally accepted by biologists that birds, rather than other reptiles, are the nearest living relatives of modern crocodilians All crocodilian species, except for the American alligator, are endangered in at least part of their ranges, and some are threatened with extinction as a result of habitat destruction, hunting, or pollution Crocodiles and their method of locomotion are the inspiration for the robot in this chapter Figure 61 shows the Nile crocodile along with its biologically inspired robotic counterpart The robot croc191
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FIGURE 61
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A crocodile and its biologically inspired counterpart
odile measures 14 inches in length from head to tail, and is 5 inches wide Moving the body from one location to another is one of the most important everyday tasks for animals They must be able to move from place to place during the activities necessary for survival These activities include thermoregulation, finding food, social interactions, nesting, and escape from threats While crocodiles spend much of the day motionless or moving very little, it is a mistake to think that they are not very active Crocodiles are capable of moving at surprising speed when required Crocodiles have three basic styles of moving on land These methods of locomotion are usually referred to as the belly crawl, the high walk, and the gallop The belly crawl is very similar in form to the way that a lizard moves The legs are splayed out to the sides and the center of gravity is low The belly crawl is used on land and very shallow water The crocodile uses its front and hind limbs to achieve locomotion The crocodile s whole body and tail undulates rapidly from side to side when walking The belly crawl is probably the
6 / Crocobot: Build Your Own Robotic Crocodile
most commonly used way in which crocodiles move around on land It is usually slow, although it can be modified so that the crocodile reaches speeds of 5 to 10 kilometers per hour when required Although the term belly crawl implies a certain style of locomotion, in reality there are several variations on this gait suited to different situations, and only at very slow speeds does the crocodile actually crawl, as the name suggests The high walk and gallop are unlike a reptilian gait The crocodile walks more like a mammal during the high walk The gallop is very spectacular to watch, and propels even large crocodiles away from potential danger at very high speeds The robotic crocodile in this chapter will use a method of walking on four legs where the body is raised completely above the ground
Overview of the Crocobot Project
The robot crocodile that will be built and programmed in this chapter is controlled remotely by a human operator via a wireless data link The robot and the remote control that will be built are shown in Figure 62 The wireless data is transmitted from the controller and received by the robot using RF modules built by a company called Linx Technologies The robot achieves locomotion using four legs that are driven by a twin-motor gearbox The geared motors operate on voltages between 3 and 6 volts, making them perfect for small walking robots The motors are controlled using the L298 dual full-bridge driver The motor driver takes its control signals from a PIC 16F84 microcontroller The microcontroller will also be used to interpret the control commands sent from the hand held remote control The remote control uses a PIC 16C71 microcontroller featuring four analog to digital converters Two of the analog to digital converters will be used to monitor the position of the control stick on the remote control device This is accomplished by reading the voltages produced by the poten193
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