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FIGURE 16.11 Car-type steering offers a workable alternative for an outdoors robot, but it is less useful indoors or in places where there are many obstructions that must be steered around.
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CALCULATING THE SPEED OF ROBOT TRAVEL 231
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FIGURE 16.12 In tricycle steering, one drive motor powers the robot; a single wheel in front steers the robot. Be wary of short wheelbases as this can introduce tipping when the robot turns.
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motor, of course). Read more about servo motors in 20, Working with Servo Motors.
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To have the highest tech of all robots, you may want omnidirectional drive. It uses steerable drive wheels, usually at least three, as shown in Fig. 16.13. The wheels are operated by two motors: one for locomotion and one for steering. In the usual arrangement, the drive/steering wheels are ganged together using gears, rollers, chains, or pulleys. Omnidirectional robots exhibit excellent maneuverability and steering accuracy, but they are technically more difficult to construct.
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Calculating the Speed of Robot Travel
The speed of the drive motors is one of two elements that determines the travel speed of your robot. The other is the diameter of the wheels. For most applications, the speed of the drive motors should be under 130 rpm (under load). With wheels of average size, the resultant travel speed will be approximately four feet per second. That s actually pretty fast. A better travel speed is one to two feet per second (approximately 65 rpm), which requires smaller diameter wheels, a slower motor, or both. How do you calculate the travel speed of your robot Follow these steps:
1. Divide the rpm speed of the motor by 60. The result is the revolutions of the motor per
second (rps). A 100-rpm motor runs at 1.66 rps.
2. Multiply the diameter of the drive wheel by pi, or approximately 3.14. This yields the cir-
cumference of the wheel. A 7-inch wheel has a circumference of about 21.98 inches.
3. Multiply the speed of the motor (in rps) by the circumference of the wheel. The result
is the number of linear inches covered by the wheel in one second. With a 100-rpm motor and 7-inch wheel, the robot will travel at a top speed of 35.168 inches per second, or just under three feet. That s about two miles per hour! You can readily see that you can slow down a robot by decreasing the size of the wheel. By reducing the wheel to 5 inches instead of 8, the same 100-rpm motor will propel the robot at about 25 inches per second. By reducing the motor speed to, say, 75 rpm, the travel speed falls even more, to 19.625 inches per second. Now that s more reasonable.
232 ROBOT LOCOMOTION PRINCIPLES
Steering and drive wheels
FIGURE 16.13 An omnidirectional robot uses the same wheels for drive and steering.
Bear in mind that the actual travel speed once the robot is all put together may be lower than this. The heavier the robot, the larger the load on the motors, so the slower they will turn.
Round Robots or Square
Robots can t locomote where they can t fit. Obviously, a robot that s too large to fit through doorways and halls will have a hard time of it. In addition, the overall shape of a robot will also dictate how maneuverable it is, especially indoors. If you want to navigate your robot in tight areas, you should consider its basic shape: round or square.
I A round robot is generally able to pass through smaller openings, no matter what its ori-
entation when going through the opening (see Fig. 16.14). To make a round robot, you must either buy or make a rounded base or frame. Whether you re working with metal, steel, or wood, a round base or frame is not as easy to construct as a square one. I A square robot must orient itself so that it passes through openings straight ahead rather than at an angle. Square-shaped robot bases and frames are easier to construct than round ones. While you re deciding whether to build a round- or square-shaped robot, consider that a circle of a given diameter has less surface area than a square of the same width. For example, a 10-inch circle has a surface area of about 78 square inches. Moreover, because the surface of the base is circular, less of it will be useful for your robot (unless your printed circuit boards are also circular). Conversely, a 10-inch-by-10-inch square robot has a surface area of 100 inches. Such a robot could be reduced to about 8.5 inches square, and it would have about the same surface area as a 10-inch round robot, and its surface area would be generally more usable.
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