Let's Make Robots!

tractor-trailer coupling with power transfer

This is an idea for two (or more) cooperative robots. One passive bot (with wheels, but without motors) and one active bot (with motors). The motor-bot (the tractor) would pull the lame bot (the trailer). The trailer has a power source on board. The tractor wants to recharge its battery from that source.

The big idea is so big, I won't even mention it here. Yet.

One of the necessary and mission-critical components would be the coupling of the two machines. In my design I want this coupling to be strong enough for the pulling AND I also want the two bots to share electrical power through the coupling. The mechanism must be robust and reliable. I want the tractor to be able to perform the entire coupling maneuver without my help. And also the de-coupling. So the coupling must also be fool proof.

Look at these designs made in a rapid prototyping material called pizza box.


That was the initial flat version. The red/black markings indicate where I would place conductive materials (e.g. copper plating). All the rest is electrically insulating (wood, plastic, chewing gum).

I recreated the "mushroom" in a taller version, so I could actually test the coupling/decoupling.



Here is how they "work".




And here you see how well the coupling works (even I were surprised) when the approach is not perfectly aligned.



Feel free to use these designs, even when I do not. Also feel free to post your results on LMR!



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Was talking about the patentability thing, but if ya got a spare $1500, go ahead and gut a Macbook for parts.
You mean Apple has got a patent on that?!
they probably patented this implementation of it, use of magnets in power couplings.

Shiz man. That whole post was a thats what she said.However, that is an ingenious idea and i would love to see that in action (TWSS).


twis week?

That's very cool, I think I'll be making use of that coupling at some point. I really like the ideas you have for projects too, very creative. I hope to eventually see all of them posted here :)


I'm not sure we get to live that long Dan!

It's nice dreaming though.

i think you should use the wires as Nicola has shown. Else: what will happen when the tractor brakes and the trail goes forward, thus disconnecting from the contacts on the "mushroom"?
Who said blog-postings where not read?
More blogs ought to be written though!