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Robotics Toys Hardware

Stair-climbing Robot Built From R/C Car Parts 148

dpa writes "The ability to climb and descend stairs (5M mpg) is one of the unexpected behaviors of this new home-brew off-road autonomous robot platform. The robot has a custom chassis and uses standard suspension and drive components scavanged from old R/C monster trucks. Here is a link to the build log, and here is a link to a hi-res version of the video (20M mpg)."
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Stair-climbing Robot Built From R/C Car Parts

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  • (20M mpg)?

    20 million miles to the gallon? I gotta get that robot!
    • Well, maybe whoever is running that site will sell you one, after they get the bill for their bandwidth usage this month. :)
    • In case you're even slower than me, it's a 20 MB .mpg file
      • In case you're even slower than me, it's a 20 MB .mpg file


        I did catch that, actually ;)

        Although it woooould be more clear to write mpeg rather than MPG. But I digress..
    • Oh right, my real post:

      What makes a robot these days? Is anything mechanical a robot? My first inclination would be to call this a remote-controlled car, not a robot. The same applies to a lesser extent to things such as F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Competition [usfirst.org]. I always thought a robot should have some level of artificial intelligence or (less extremely) autonomy, rather than just another mechanical device controlled by humans. Or is that just the poor science fiction I have read coming out in my assumptions?
      • This is NOT an RC vehicle. Nobody is controlling it.
        • This is NOT an RC vehicle. Nobody is controlling it.

          then perhaps you can explain just why it has a little whip arial then??? I'd be far happier believing it was a true autonomous robot if there was no whip arial...

          • The aerial is for the wi-fi connection. (The robot has a webserver) :p
          • Please look again at the site. The car is made from common RC car parts (Traxxas truck parts) but the control system is autonomous. On top of the stalk is the inertia sensor that is the basis for its navigation.

          • This is NOT an RC vehicle. Nobody is controlling it.

            then perhaps you can explain just why it has a little whip arial then??? I'd be far happier believing it was a true autonomous robot if there was no whip arial...

            All my autonomous robots have aerials for telemetry and video. Most have RC gear on them at some stage too, if only to test the chassis. Check out this guy's nBot if you don't believe that it's autonomous. You can't balance on two wheels by remote control.

    • 20 miles to a gallon is nothing.

      A while back there was a model airplane that flew 1882 miles across the atlantic on less than a gallon of fuel.

      Here's the article. [findarticles.com]

      Luke
      ----
      And Here's [christiannerds.com] my shameless plug for my website
  • Would this be a case of Emergent Behaviour? My First , First Post
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 )
    Before the video gets slashdotted, here's a summary: A 6 wheeled, 3 axle remote control car goes down some stairs with VERY shallow height, it does around some bushes, and back up the stairs. It really is rather unspectactular. There's a variety of off-the-shelf remote control vehicles that can do the same thing... probably better.

    -S
  • I gotta say, for an editor to accept a story with a direct HTTP link to a 20MB mpeg video, it says volumes about how little regard for the technology and the inspiration that makes the Internet great. Slash could be a good net citizen and help avoid melting servers, but no, it's a game to these editors to inflict their worst.
  • Everybody (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Stop downloading for a few minutes while my download finishes....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    and we have a darpa winner
  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
    I fail to see why 3 axles are superiour to 2, especially since it is not articulated between the axles. Won't most obstacles just cause the wheels on one of the axles to lose contact with the ground anyway?
    • If you watch the video, the axels clearly have quite a lot of play, shifting around 6 inches or so on the stairs, so that all 6 wheels are pretty much continuously in contact with the ground.

      i.e. it *is* articulated between the axels.
    • Because this will enable stability while that axle is off the ground. Which would you rather be on, stability-wise: 3 axles(2 over some obstacles), or 2(1 over some obstacles)?
    • by dpa ( 579262 )
      it's 6-wheel fully independent suspension. that tends to keeps all 6 wheels on the ground/stairs,/etc. Watch the video in slow motion if you can.
    • They're all driven. They have independent supension.
    • I believe the center wheel set is to keep the chassis from bottoming out over the edge of each stair step when going back up the stairs and to provide extra traction when climing stairs. However as you can see and hear from the video it still slips and has to claw at each step to make it up. A larger wheel and ground clearance could do this better with 4 wheels instead of 6. He should have built it on a Traxxas E-Maxx platform if he wanted to climb over rought terrain and stairs easily.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @08:19PM (#13218905) Journal
    It's relatively easy to build a robot that can do NNN (eg: Climb stairs/vacuum floor/avoid pitfalls/get a beer) but the challenge is that biological organisms do so MANY of them, so well.

    Show me a robot that can climb stairs/vacuum floor/avoid pitfals/get a beer ALTOGETHER for a reasonable price, and I might get interested.

    But "reasonable price" doesn't mean "more expensive than the sports car I can't afford".

    PS: What kind of sadist posts a direct link to a 20 MB video on slashdot? Somebody must HATE the guy who made this!!!
  • The webserver hosting this information is able to handle the 20 meg file and also the webpage has some nice videos of some other shots of the rover. Man this is a pretty cool toy, I bet people play with these robots once they get them made. Anyway interesting story, will forward it to my robotically enthusiased friends :)
    • by dpa ( 579262 )
      well, it is actually a lot of fun to play with. Did you see the video of the robot dodging through the woods? It will do that same thing with a crowd of moving people, and you can chase it around and try to block its way. It's quite persistent. It did not occur to me when I posted the video that people would assume it is an R/C car. Hmmmm. Perhaps the word "autonomous" is not a widely understood term, more of a buzzword among robot builders. Not sure how else to say it, though. You really have to wa
      • There are several posters here that are just not getting it and can't appreciate it.

        This project is extremely cool, and I'd like to hear more about the software logic/heuristics that drive it. That is, if that's info you'd be willing to share and have time to write up.

        The video of it navigating the forest is very interesting; it normally gives a wide berth to obstacles, but in that one case it darts between the two close trees.

        Good job!
  • ...but will it also protect us from the terrible secret of space?
  • That was a fun video to watch. I get the feeling they cut it short however when the robot decided to take a swan dive off the edge of the landing at the very last second... Ooops. So much for Mr. Brain.
    • Re:Cool video! (Score:2, Informative)

      by dpa ( 579262 )
      thanks! Ah most observant Dunbal! You are correct. The posted video is spliced together from two different runs, one up and one down. It was about a 12 foot dropoff, and I was so busy looking at the video camera that I only grabbed it at the very last second before it plunged to its destruction. I think that little robot still needs his Daddy nearby for a while longer... It did a lot better offroad in the woods, like this video (10M) [smu.edu] and also this one (22M) [smu.edu].
      • Wow, the high-dynamic range lighting is really good! The trees look really real. On the other hand, the physics model on the hat could use some work. I think most people would spot that.
  • They can climb stairs, but can they push Grandma down them?
  • Man, I just got back from a jog and my knee hurts. Gonna have to switch to an elliptical. Anyway, I thought it serendipidous that I was just thinking that I needed a robot to go up and down stairs to fetch me things, since I'm getting old man knees. I'm going to eventually have to have some bot go up to my little attic safe to pluck out the paper on which is written "Go around the bend to see where Dr. Scrambles slinks and shambles." I wrote it to read when I get old. Now it looks like I need this robo
  • I was a little put-off by the fact that toy parts were only used for the drivetrain and suspension. The sensors and various gizmos are necessary, but are a little too advanced to call the thing much of a toy. It would be nice to see a robot that every kid with an old RC truck could build out of toys and maybe one or two little circuits, using free instructions.

    The thing is cool, I'll give it that, but I would have been happier if it were MacGuyver'd together out of the RC truck parts, some lego robot co
  • Here is a link that will consume enough bandwidth to easily slashdot the heck out of their server. If that isnt enough for you, here is another link that will consume enough bandwidth the slashdot, annihilate, then set it on fire for good measure.
  • Stair grinding more likely. If these things ever become popular they'll turn our stairs into ramps.
  • I was curious how a robot built from R/C truck parts would climb stairs. What sort of actuators would an R/C truck have that could be used for that?

    Looking at the article, however, shows that it's a six-wheel 'bot with oversized tires. Because the tires are big relative to the stairs (and are particularly grippy), it's able to climb the stairs. Not quite what I was looking for, but it gets the job done. Not really scalable, though.

    Props for the Frankenstein treatment, though.
  • The Daleks were already given this ability in the latest series of Doctor Who, but they did it with *much* more style that this video shows :)
    • Daleks were climbing stairs in "Rememberance of the Daleks" from the old series. In both the old and new series there's a long drawn-out scene where the characters just stop at the top of a flight of stairs thinking they've outsmarted the Daleks and instead of continuing to run they wait right at the top of the stairs until the Daleks starts climbing the stairs. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not frightened on some new level when I see that this killer death machine can actually climb stairs. I just start to
  • ...but how does fare against the pusher robots [ungrounded.net]?

    k.
  • It IS an RC car, even my $5 car can climb 4 inch stairs. That's rediculous.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Triwheel designs do this much better (they had one in the Robot Builder's Bonanza book, which is a great read); they can go up 45 degree steps. They work by having three smaller wheels arranged into a single triangular "wheel," with only two in contact when on flat ground. When they encounter stairs, they just simply flip and go over the stairs. I think Lockheed or some company like that had a patent on the design, although it may be close to expiring. A full scale vehicle with the design was used in a
  • In case the original gets slashdotted, here's the 20MB version.

    Mirror [rianjs.net].

  • I think with just a little bit more software to detect when one wheel is slipping, it may be able to take care of itself going up without making that annoying grinding noise as its wheels turn against the stair edge.
  • Pretty cool, but if you want to see a real stair climbing robot, check out the iBot. It was made by the same guy who invented the Segway (Dean Kamen). It's a motorized wheelchair that can climb stairs.

    iBot [independencenow.com]
  • I, for one, (Score:2, Funny)

    by p!ngu ( 854287 )
    ...welcome our stair climbing robot overlords.
  • This robot is seriously cool. The thing is autonomous in every way and the guidance does not depend on external GPS signals either, yet all the people around here can do it state how umimpressive it is, how it doesn't do enough, how it's inferior to biological organisms, blah, blah, blah. For crying out loud, show a little respect for some hard work on a cool project with a high geek factor.
    • Amen, I'd bet good money that most on here have never even programmed a microcontroller to get a servo moving, let alone created a robot equal to the one in the article. To those I simply say - Try it yourself and see how easy it is.

      This guy has been building robots since the early 1990s. What have these naysayers done that is sooo damn impressive?

  • I made the same thing but better in 2001, but MUCH COOLER THAN THIS. It was a Lego Robotics "Dual-Diode Stairwalker", as I named it. It had 4 wheels, not six, about the same size as those in the mpeg. However, the school stair steps were twice as tall as that, so the middle of it would get stuck against the step half-way up. As well, going down the stairs was a very messy endeavor (remember, it was made of all Legos.) Yet, on those stairs in the video, it would have worked just fine.

    However, the cool t
  • Too bad I'm not the first to say this, but this is stupid. At 1:24 you can see that they edited the clip, probably because their dumbass RC rover did a backflip. As if I cared little enough about crappy remote controlled cars in the first place, I give this a 10; and by 10 I mean -10 out of -10.
    • Slinkies climb down stairs more gracefully than this piece of crap.
      • It's a robot. It does this all by itself not remote control.

        So you're not impressed.. so what? What have _you_ done in the field of robotics? Please share it with us all so we can laugh at your accomplishments.



  • ...if the Daleks acquire this technology.

  • Did anyone notice that the robot climbs down stairs in a straightline but has to go diagonally when climbing the stairs so that more wheels have traction at the same time. Did they program this is in? Intelligent robot if they didnt. PS - the video is still alive.
  • If it's driving itself why does it have an antenna sticking up in the back?
    • Re:Autonomous? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Did you RTFA? From the webpage, *FIRST* paragraph:

      "this is an autonomous robot. That means it drives itself. It is not
      a radio controlled vehicle. The radio antennae you see in the pictures are for an emergency
      shutoff, required by the rules of some robot contests. The robot is navigating using wheel
      odometery and an inertial measurement unit (IMU). It does obstacle avoidance using a 4-element
      sonar array. No one is driving the robot: it drives itself."

      I noticed the paragraph is addressed directly to sla
      • Why yes, I did RTFA, and that paragraph didn't exist at that time. If you would RTFP that you referenced you would see that it is in response to Slashdot postings. I don't usually go back to reread an article I've already read just to see if it might have been changed.
  • Thank you, Slashdot, for a good bit 'o morning humor. There's nothing quite as funny as seeing links to a 5Mb and 20Mb video on the front page of Slashdot. Burn server burn!

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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