20 years ago, robots based on simple 8-bit processors and touch sensors were the norm. Now, it’s possible to build multi-core robots that can react to their surroundings with intelligence. Today’s robots combine sensor readings from accelerometers, gyroscopes and computer vision sensors to learn about their environments. They can respond using sophisticated control algorithms and they can process data both locally and in the cloud.
This book, which covers the theory and best practices associated with advanced robot technologies, was written to help roboticists, whether amateur hobbyist or professional, take their designs to the next level. As will be seen, building advanced applications does not require extremely costly robot technology. All that is needed is simply the knowledge of which technologies are out there and how best to use each of them.
Each chapter in this book will introduce one of these different technologies and discuss how best to use it in a robotics application. On the hardware side, we’ll cover microcontrollers, servos, and sensors, hopefully inspiring you to design your own awe-inspiring, next-generation systems. On the software side, we’ll cover programming languages, debugging, algorithms, and state machines. We’ll focus on the Arduino, the Parallax Propeller, Revolution Education PICAXE and projects I’ve with which I’ve been involved, including the TBot educational robot, the PropScope oscilloscope, the 12Blocks visual programming language, and the ViewPort development environment. In addition, we’ll serve up a comprehensive introduction to a variety of essential topics, including output (e.g. LEDs, servo motors), and communication technologies (e.g. infrared, audio), that you can use to develop systems that interact to stimuli and communicate with humans and other robots. To make these topics as accessible as possible, handy schematics, sample code and practical tips regarding building and debugging have been included.
Christchurch, New Zealand