HiveBugs are a beginner's robot that I have been developing in order to be able to introduce people to recycling, soldering with a low obligation to the task, programming and finally robotics. In order to make all of these ideas come together, I made this little robot to demonstrate some low intelligence behaviors from the BEAM platform while drawing on some other fundamentals like flocking and easy-to-do programming
There were several goals in mind with this project. Top of the list was of course the educational and creative values of the robots, but the project also needs to be inexpensive for each robot since the goal is to make a hive of them.
Each HiveBug consists of several modular parts that can act independently from one another. The basic circuit driving the motors is a phototrope (light seeker) using an LM555 timer IC. This is then mounted on the 3D printed base that houses the motors, and carries three points with disc shaped magnets encased in the ends. Whichever way you put the magnets in dictates the North or South polarity and defines how it might react with others of its own species, love or attraction if there is a opposite polarity, and hate/repulsion if the poles are alike.
The next lesson consists of the RGB LED circuit. This circuit, which is a modified version of the Tinkerlog Firefly (thanks Alex!), is used to make our main acuator for the robot, light, into a sort of language that the HiveBug species uses to communicate. According to the amount of light taken in by the photodiode on this circuit, the RGB pulses different colors at different speeds. If there were a hive of these creatures, they'd be taking in each other's light signals and pulsing their own responses, affecting the movement and communication of the entire hive.
All in all, I like the anatomy of the robot, as you can see the lower motor functions making it move, and the higher function is done on a chip that had to learn, i.e.be programmed. I think it shows parallels to biology and differs greatly only on complexity.
Breadboard Fritzing Diagram
I plan to make a few kits of these for a workshop over the summer, but the idea of many hives existing is too tempting not to put out there as an option for everyone. I also find it appropriate for the species I've made here since it is a thing that needs to evolve. Together We Push Evolution right?
UPDATE 5/30/12: Added everything you need to program the ATtiny25 with the firefly code. Finalizing the design of the bot and boards, and will post once they prove correct. For now just chop up some protoboard, its quick!
UPDATE 8/3/2012: Made a "flock" and added a video!
UPDATE 2/2/2012 Workshop using the Breadboard version!