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18.9.2 FRONT-DRIVE MOTOR MOUNT
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You can also position the wheels on one end of the platform. In this case, you add one caster on the other end to provide stability and a pivot for turning, as shown in Fig. 18-6. Obviously, the weight is now concentrated more on the motor side of the platform. You should place more weight over the drive wheels, but avoid putting all the weight there since maneuverability and stability may be diminished. One advantage of front-drive mounting is that it simplifies the construction of the robot. Its steering circle, the diameter of the circle in which the robot can be steered, is still the
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PRINCIPLES OF ROBOT LOCOMOTION
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FIGURE 18-4 Two motors mounted on either side of the robot can power two wheels. Casters provide balance. The robot steers by changing the speed and direction of each motor.
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same diameter as the centerline drive robot. However, it extends beyond the front/back dimension of the robot (see Fig. 18-7). This may or may not be a problem, depending on the overall size of your robot and how you plan to use it. Any given front-drive robot may be smaller than its centerline drive cousin. Because of the difference in their physical size, the diameter of the steering circle for both may be about the same.
18.9 MOTOR DRIVES
Caster
Caster
FIGURE 18-5 A robot with a centerline motor mount uses two casters (very occasionally one) for balance. When using one caster, you may need to shift the balance of weight toward the caster end to avoid having the robot tip over.
18.9.3 CASTER CHOICES
As mentioned earlier, most robots employing the two-motor drive system use at least one unpowered caster, which provides support and balance. Two casters are common in robots that use centerline drive-wheel mounting. Each caster is positioned at opposite ends of the robot. When selecting casters it is important to consider the following factors:
The size of the caster wheel should be in proportion to the drive wheels (see Fig. 18-8). When the robot is on the ground, the drive motors must firmly touch terra firma. If the caster wheels are too large, the drive motors may not make adequate contact, and poor
Caster
FIGURE 18-6 A robot with a front-drive motor mount uses a single opposing caster for balance. Steering is accomplished using the same technique as a centerline motor mount.
PRINCIPLES OF ROBOT LOCOMOTION
Steering Circle for Centerline Robot
Steering Circle for Front-Drive Robot
FIGURE 18-7 The steering circle of a robot with centerline and front-drive mounted motors.
traction will result. You might also consider using a suspension system of your own design on the casters to compensate for uneven terrain. The casters should spin and swivel freely. A caster that doesn t spin freely will impede the robot s movement. In most cases, since the caster is provided only for support and not traction you should construct the caster from a hard material to reduce friction. A caster made of soft rubber will introduce more friction, and it may affect a robot s movements. Consider using ball casters (also called ball transfers), which are primarily designed to be used in materials processing (conveyor chutes and the like). Ball casters (see Fig. 18-9) are made of a single ball either metal or rubber held captive in a housing, and they function as omnidirectional casters for your robot. The size of the ball varies from about 11 16 to over 3 in in diameter. Look for ball casters at mechanical surplus stores and also at industrial supply outlets, such as Grainger and McMaster Carr.
18.9 MOTOR DRIVES
Base Drive Wheel Caster
Path
Suspension
Path
FIGURE 18-8 The height of the caster with respect to the drive wheels will greatly influence the robot s traction and maneuverability. A spring-loaded caster (a kind of suspension) can improve functionality of the robot on semirough terrain.
FIGURE 18-9 Ball casters (or ball transfers) are omnidirectional. For medium- to large-sized robots consider using them instead of wheeled casters.
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