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Sunday, January 10, 2010

A robot by any other name

I've been a bit serious recently, so lets have some fun.

First off, I've realised that my robot is more than a month old now, but still has no name! I'm not good with names, so I thought I'd open it up to the floor and see if anyone had any suggestions.

If possible, it should be a name which conveys his gentle nature, effervescent personality and love of outdoor sports.

Next, it's time for the cool robot of the week!

I've been talking about control theory quite a bit recently, and I've been doing some research into different methods which might be applicable to my dynamic balance problem. This video is of an inverted pendulum - the arm is free to rotate on the cart, and only the cart is free to move along the x-axis. The cart has a model of the system which it uses to swing the pendulum into a stable inverted state. This is a well studied area of control theory, and today's modern robots (and humans) have been doing this for awhile.

Not impressed? What about this:

Same problem, but with an extra degree of freedom. Now there is a compound pendulum (one pendulum free to rotate off the first pendulum), but still only the one cart. This is a non-holonomic system, which is much harder to control using conventional control methods.

Still not enough?

Here is the double pendulum problem again, but this time the cart has been replaced by an arm. Instead of being constrained to two dimensions, the control algorithm now has to cope with the non-linearity of moving the control arm in a 3D rotational space.

I know it's not the cute little humanoids you are used to, but from an engineering perspective this is significantly more impressive watching robots dancing.

Ok, maybe not.

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