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|Target Environment||Locomotion Method|
|Outdoors, all terrain||2 Wheels|
|Sensors / Input Devices||Actuators / Output Devices|
|DC gear motors|
|Control Method||Power Source|
|CPU Type||Operating System|
|Time to build||Cost to build|
|URL for more information|
|I've been working on a two-wheeled balancing robot, nBot.
This began as an experiment to learn to control an inverted pendulum. I began with a three wheeled robot with a ball-bearing pivot used to attach a 3 foot wooden pole topped with an orange Nerf Ball. The pivot has a low-friction 5k potentiometer used for measuring the tilt angle of the pole. I moved the battery pack over the rear wheel to give more stability.
The basic idea for a two-wheeled dynamically balancing robot is pretty simple: drive the wheels in the direction that the upper part of the robot is falling. If the wheels can be driven in such a way as to stay under the robot's center of gravity, the robot remains balanced. In practice this requires two feedback sensors: a tilt or angle sensor to measure the tilt of the robot with respect to gravity, and wheel encoders to measure the position of the base of the robot. Four terms are sufficient to define the motion and position of this "inverted pendulum" and thereby balance the robot. These are 1) the tilt angle and 2) its first derivative, the angle velocity, and 3) the platform position and 4) its first derivative, the platform velocity. These four measurements are summed and fed back to the platform as a motor voltage, which is proportional to torque, to balance and drive the robot.
This robot was featured as NASA's Cool Robot of the Week for 19 May 2003. Thereafter Scientific American's online website, SCI/Tech Web Awards, honored the NASA page as one of the top 10 engineering and technical web sites for 2003, referencing nBot in its text. nBot is also featured in a new O'Reilly book spun off from Make Magazine in 2006, called The Makers.