Monday, March 10, 2008

The Development Platform robot (lab robot)

This type of robot is a little different than the rest. In research labs, school classrooms, & garages & basements all over the world, piles of mechanical, electronic, & computer parts can be seen motoring around, trying to make sense of their world. Bots of this type are often the least "style" conscious, & often have no shell. The form is usually the lowest priority & often takes the shape of a couple of large disks stacked on top of each other, separated by spacers.The type of simple platform seen in pic above (without other components mounted) is a common sight in university labs & hobby workshops all over the world.

Here, the robot body only exists to allow the experimenter to test out control programs, sensor arrays, & other robot components. Information gained by experimenting on these platforms is often incorporated into more solid, robust robots.

Bots of this type usually have an extremely simple structure made of readily available materials & sport a constantly changing array of hardware.

Embedded Bots
This is the invisible robot, the machine with sensors, brains, and actuators, that doesn't look like a robot at all. Embedded systems is one of the fastest growing areas of digital technology, but its modest, behind-the-scenes (under-the-hood, inside-the-walls) nature means that it's off of most people's radar. And because of their very un-botish nature, we won't really be spending too much time discussing embedded robotics here.

Embedded robots vary greatly in body type, depending on their function and environment. They are usually highly integrated into their world (a new home, the signs and light poles of a highway, the guts of an orbiting satellite), which is why we tend to overlook them.



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