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In order for the robot in RobotBASIC to simulate a real robot we gave it a method for simulating a battery that discharges and can be recharged. In this chapter we will examine ways of making our robot seek a recharging station whenever it senses that its battery is in need of replenishing.
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13.1 The Robot s Battery
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By default, our simulated robot does not care about the battery level. It will function regardless of the battery s charge condition. This enables us to not worry about the battery while developing and prototyping solutions for certain problems. However, to make the simulation more realistic, we should consider the battery sooner or later. This is accomplished by ordering the simulated robot to not ignore the battery condition. Every time you use a sensor [rBumper(), rFeel(), etc.] or when you issue commands to make the robot move (rForward, rTurn) the robot s battery discharges a little (motors use twice as much power as sensors in the simulation). To oblige the robot to heed the battery s condition you have to issue the command:
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rIgnoreCharge false
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What happens if the robot runs out of battery charge and the command above has been issued Any commands to make the robot move or turn will cause an error and any functions returning values from sensors will return useless data (see Sec. C.9). If you want the robot to stop heeding the battery level execute the command again with the value true. There are many ways to enable a robot in real life to detect the charge level on its battery. You could, for example, use a digital voltmeter to determine how much the battery voltage drops when the battery is supplying current. Our robot has this ability by using a function that returns the percentage of battery charge remaining. The statement below assigns the remaining percentage charge to a variable B.
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B = rChargeLevel()
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If the battery is 70 percent depleted, B will have the value 30, indicating that there is 30 percent capacity remaining. Run the program in Fig. 13.1 and leave it running for a while. The program makes the robot move back and forth on the screen and reports its battery charge level. Once
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MainProgram: rLocate 50,200,90 rIgnoreCharge false while true XYString 3,3,"Charge=",rChargeLevel(),"% rForward 700 rTurn 180 wend End
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FIGURE 13.1
Discharging the battery.
CHARGING THE BATTERY
FIGURE 13.2
Battery depletion error.
the battery is depleted the next statement that tries to make the robot move will cause an error as shown in Fig. 13.2. Real robots will have to connect themselves (or be connected) to a terminal to recharge the battery, and the process may take hours. It serves no purpose for a simulator to simulate hours of recharging. Our robot can be recharged with the command:
rCharge ExprN
ExprN is an expression that results in a value between 1 and 100. If you pass a value outside these limits RobotBASIC will assume the closer limit. This command instantaneously recharges the battery to the level you specify. Simulating time delays or having to be at a particular place and orientation can be done programmatically. The following sections will explore methods to accomplish this.
13.2 Real-World Charging
The battery must be removed from many robots in order to charge it. However, it would be more convenient if the robot s battery could be charged by just plugging the robot into some mechanism without having to remove the battery at all. There are many situations where it would be desirable for the robot to be self-charging. If the robot is to be fully autonomous it certainly ought to be able to:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Recognize that its battery needs a charge. Abandon any action it is currently performing to seek a recharging station. Reach the charging station promptly. Orient it self correctly and dock with the charging outlet. Monitor the charge level and wait until the battery is fully recharged. Go back to performing its duties.
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