A robot that knows its place

时间:2019-03-08 01:01:26166网络整理admin

By Jonathan Beard in New York MOBILE robots that carry parts around factory floors do not really navigate, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Instead, they merely follow wires buried in the floor or look for beacons or bar codes on the walls. But now robotics researcher Johann Borenstein and his colleagues have designed a robot that navigates autonomously—creating a more flexible system. “Instead of rewiring a plant or moving beacons when a work area changed or new machines were added, robots could be reprogrammed to take a new course,” Borenstein says. Called the OmniMate, the Michigan system uses mileometers and an onboard computer to work out where the robot—basically an intelligent pallet—is at any one moment. It comprises a platform measuring 1.8 by 0.9 metres that can hold 114 kilograms, set atop two trucks. Each truck has two wheels powered by electric motors, plus caster wheels for stability. As the robot moves at speeds of up to 1 metre per second, each wheel monitors its progress with a mileometer accurate to a fraction of a millimetre. An onboard computer—a basic, cheap PC—charts how far each wheel has travelled. Borenstein says OmniMate has an error correction system that enables it to follow a course despite bumps that might upset position calculations. “When a wheel goes over a bump, it rotates more, yet does not move—linearly—as far as the wheels on the other truck,