The development of a stair climbing robot by LondonGlobal


									           PHAS3441 PHYSICS GROUP PROJECT 2008/9
                                    Project Brief:

                  The development of a stair-climbing robot
Robotic mechanisms for moving over uneven terrain have numerous applications

      Development of a wheel-chair with a stair-climbing mechanism in order to
       provide wheel-chair users access to buildings without lifts and ramps (especially
       around UCL) and public transport systems (such as London Underground).
      Development of Mars rover vehicles.
      Military applications such as bomb-disposal and the extraction of injured soldiers
       and civilians from war zones.
      Toys.

The Challenge:
The challenge is to develop a stair-climbing robot which can climb the steps of UCL’s
Portico in the Main Quad.

Group arrangements:
Although, it is up to the group to decide how to break down the work between its
members, the following approach is suggested:

1. Literature review
A literature survey should examine existing designs for stair-climbing mechanisms and
their applications.

2. Survey of accessibility issues for wheel-chair users.
A survey of the access difficulties faced by wheel-chair users should be undertaken.
This survey should focus on access to UCL buildings and/or London Underground and
consider how issues are currently being addressed and what could be done in the

3. Design
The required motion could be achieved in a number of ways including: using wheels,
legs, caterpillar tracks or some form of folding mechanism. It may be helpful to construct
a number of prototypes using readily available materials such as cardboard and tape, or
construction kits such as Lego, Meccano or K-nex. To save on materials, scale-models
could initially be built.

4. Modelling
Prototypes can also be constructed “virtually” using various CAD programmes, or “game
development” software. BBC Television, for example, provide “Bamzooki” software
which can be downloaded for free and used to develop moving “Zook” creatures.
Further insights may also be gained by producing “animations” of any scale-model
prototypes developed, using “stop-frame” video techniques.
5. Mechanical construction
The group will need to determine what materials to use to construct the “chassis” or
“body” of their robot and the movement mechanism.

6. Actuators
Possible actuators for implementing the movement mechanism include: DC motors,
stepper motors, servo motors, hydraulically-operated devices and pneumatically-driven
air muscles. Electronic circuitry will be required to interface with the actuators.

7. Control and electronic interfacing
The “Rules of the Game” relating to how the robot should be controlled are quite
flexible. An “umbilical cable” connecting the robot to a user-operated control box is
permitted; or some form of wireless link (infra-red, “Radio-control”, Bluetooth, etc) may
be used. The “control box” could comprise a custom-built box of switches, a commercial
radio-control transmitter (as used for RC models) or a laptop. Alternatively, the robot
may be “autonomous” with it’s own on-board computer and obstacle sensors. The robot
may be fully-autonomous – whereby it makes all it’s own decisions – or semi-
autonomous, receiving some “high-level” commands from a distant human “driver”. A
number of low-cost on-board computers are available including microcontrollers which
can be programmed using BASIC, C or Labview.

8. Website development
The group is required to produce a website to document the design process from
conception of prototypes to final implementation, and host a video of their robot in action
completing the challenge.

Websites of interest

Millfield Instruments Ltd (An interesting range of products useful for robotics projects)

Hitec Robotics

Arexx Engineering (An interesting range of robotics products)
One of their interesting products is the YETI-3000 Programmable walking robot kit,
which is also readily available from Farnell (Order Code: 128-0083)

Lego Mindstorms NXT

The Shadow Robot Company

       Dr Martin Fry (Tel: 020 7679 0274, Internal Extension: 30274, E-mail:
                                                                                        9 July 2008

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