Having a robot react as a human was always a goal in the robotics industry. As robots become more advanced by being powered by much powerful computers, the human brain is still one of the most powerful. Creating a robot that has the reaction time of a human and does what a human can do is still a complex task. But having a robot being controlled by a person, that mimics the movement is much simpler.
What it does
This robot has four joints; two hips and two knees, that are controlled by servo motors to lift and lower when a person wearing a specially designed exoskeleton controls it.
How we built it
We 3D printed all the parts and attached them with bolts. The exoskeleton was built by having metal bars connected together with potentiometers to track the person's leg positions. The robot and the exoskeleton suit are powered by Arduino YUN boards that communicated between themselves using WiFi. The legs of the robot move thanks to servo motors that are placed at the joints. The plastic that we used for the robot is wood-infused PLA to create a more ancient feel to the robot's exterior.
Challenges we ran into
Communication between the exoskeleton and the robot was the initial problem that we had to solve. We needed to know the IP addresses of each board, to allow communication with each other. Building a balanced robot that is capable of walking was a challenge that was fixed by having to lift the robot into the air but the robot lost the capability to walk. Calibrating the servo motors and the potentiometers to be synchronized was a long and repetitive process that required careful calculations.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are very excited to be able to easily pass information from the exoskeleon suit to the robot. Having releatively close human angles when the robot walks is also a nice sight to see.
What we learned
We learned how to pass information by WiFi using HTTP protocols from one Arduino YUN board to another. This will be able to allow us to further build on wireless communication between boards. We learned that balance of mechanical constructions is a key part in the build process and must be taken into account right away, or else the construction might fall... A log wiring and soldering was used during the build process and the whole team enjoyed doing some electrical engineering.
What's next for WoodYouFollowMe
Next we would like the robot to have a moving camera on top of it, so that the user can see where the robot is going. We want to stream the video feed from the robot into VR, and the person wearing the headset will feel like they are the robot. Having the robot able to walk is the main goal after this competition, so that we are able to explore and walk with the robot.