I like to tell people who are new to robotics, or are just robotics curious, is that a robot consists of three elements:
- The ability to gather data
- The ability to process, or do something with the gathered data
- The ability to interact with the environment
We apply this principal to build a small mobile robot. We will use ultrasonic rangefinders and infrared sensors to gather data about the environment. Specifically, we will identify when there is an object to be avoided, when we are about to drive off the edge of a table, and the contrast between the table and the line that we will follow. Once we have this data, we will apply logic to determine the appropriate response.
We will use Python in a Linux environment to process the information and send commands to our motors. I chose Python as the programming language because it is easy to learn, and you don’t have to have a complex development environment to build some pretty complex applications.