Kobot mobile robot platform is specifically designed for swarm robotic studies. The robot has the size of a CD (diameter of 12 cm), a weight of 350 grams, and it is differentially driven by two high quality DC motors. It has eight IR sensors for kin and obstacle detection and a digital compass for heading measurement. An IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee compliant XBee wireless module with a range of approximately 20 m indoors is used for communication between robots and between the robots and a computer console. The robot hosts a 20 MHz PIC18F4620A microcontroller.
Both pieces are manufactured by casting polyurethanes, a low-density material that is ideal to create a light yet durable body structure for the robot. The cap is wrapped with white paper, to increase the visibility of the robots to each other.
Two high efficiency, low profile and high torque DC gear-head motors from FTB Inc. of Faulhaber are used in Kobot. They are directly connected to the wheels. The motors are driven using Vishay Inc.(tm)'s high switching frequency Si9988 motor drivers.
Short-Range Sensing System
Figure shows the sensor board which acts as the main board of the Kobot onto which other electronic cards are mounted using smallform connectors.
KOBOT can view its environment through an omnidirectional mirror it carries on top of itself, and a camera located to face with the mirror. OmniVision 6620 Single-Chip Cmos CIF Color Camera is used for this purpose. It has the following features:
The control of the camera is done by using FPGA-based digital control and incoming image frames that are being outputted by the camera at 25Hz are stored to the RAM using DMA.
The imaging system contains also a 200MHz PXA255 microprocessor, which runs the Linux operating system on 32MB EEPROM program memory and 32MB RAM providing a powerful research platform for the on-board execution of machine vision algorithms in nearly real-time.
In Kobot, Maxstream(tm)'s XBee module is used as the communication hardware. XBee modules are IEEE802.15.4/ZigBee protocol compliant which supports point-to-point, point-to-multipoint and peer-to-peer communication, as well as mesh networking.
On this communication hardware, we have implemented the parallel programming feature using one of the most popular bootloaders, the Screamer of Sparkfun Inc. Since Screamer does not support wireless or parallel programming, we have extended its capabilities accordingly. Left below figure shows a screenshot of our loader program.
Kobot features a physics-based simulator based on the ODE (Open Dynamics Engine), which enables the modeling of actual physical interactions by implementing physical concepts such as friction and collision. It is calibrated against the physical robots using the results of systematic experiments.