Robot-gatherer design ideas
March 21, 2011
I have signed up for Robot Challenge in the Puck Collector contest (here are the rules) . The problem is I have not built anything yet... and the competition is this Saturday (26th of March).
Here is a quick overview of the rules. There are two robots on a white playing field. The robots start out from a colored "base" (either red or blue) and must collect pucks(also red or blue) of the same color which are randomly placed on the field and bring them to their starting base (red pucks to the red base if the robot starts on red). The pucks are 4cm in diameter and 1.7cm thick.
I have a general idea of how the robot will work, but I have not decided how to actually manipulate the pucks themselves so I am asking you for ideas.
Most of the robots I have seen simply push the pucks around but the playing field is usually made from several plates and may have cracks and gaps on which the pucks or the robot might snag, so I don't really like this idea.
In another approach, the robot would somehow load the pucks and separate them into two bins, based on color, and dump the correct bin into it's home base.
So what I'm actually looking for is a robust way of lifting the pucks and placing them in one of two bins.
Another restriction is that I have only a limited amount of actuators for this and absolutely no time to order anything. Basically, I have some low gear ratio motors (pololu micrometal 10:1 and 30:1, 12 mini servos with ~3kg*cm of torque, one 8kg*cm servo, a continuous rotation servo and a junk pile).
I am planning to use an Android phone with a 5 megapixel camera as the main brain of the robot, with an arduino or two carying out the comands and reading auxiliary sensors, but I am willing to go with a simpler setup (such as led based color detection).