Project motivation

A project log for Autonomous tracked robotic platform UGV

One of my most advanced projects to date. A tracked robotic development platform that [hopefully] raises the bar for hobby robotics.

Maximiliano PalayMaximiliano Palay 09/03/2021 at 22:310 Comments


Some time ago I saw the DARPA Sub-T Challenge. Its basically a challenge in which several teams compete with robots that have to autonomously explore and find items in unknown and harsh terrain. Environments are varied and include caves and buildings. It had me watching every video of the competition on their Youtube channel nonstop. The platforms being used, different sensor arrays, communication methods amazed me and made me think how cool it would be to be part of one of those teams. Mostly, they focus on the sensors and software development side and adapt existing robotics platforms for their purpose. One of the suppliers of platforms that caught my eye was Clearpath Robotics. Their robots are very sleek. 

Hobby development platforms usually don't look to good, most probably for the sake of price [and of course many people don't care about the looks]. I am a huge fan of making things, and care about the aesthetics as well. Personally, it is very different looking something well thought and designed than something poorly designed and built with very low attention to detail. I, of course, prefer the former.

Having a passion for robotics and an increasing interest in robotics platforms and frameworks, I wanted to build something that would let me develop and get into control, communications, SLAM. You can check my previous projects, the Cablecam and Robotics Ground Control Station. A good example of a project with poor design is my CNC laser engraver (:/).

With every project I try to make something better. Lately, I have been focusing on the finish.

I want somebody looking at this project and the robot going: "was that actually made at home?".

Components and design ideas

I'll try to use stuff already laying around. You might have seen this expression all over my other projects as well. This is because most of the components end up being recycled into new projects. Knowing the components I will use lets me design specifically for these.

Following, I will splash a lot of ideas for the making:

I have been tinkering with an Odrive, a couple brushless motors and encoders, so expect them to be included on this one. A Raspberry Pi 4 will be controlling mostly everything on board. Will probably use an Arduino Nano to control more hardware related stuff. Want it to have lighting and have seen some car accessory lights that are cool and very cheap, so I will try to include them in the design. A Raspberry Pi camera will be on board for video transmission. A handle is fundamental for easy transport. I've been recycling some lithium ion cells so I'll probably make the batteries out of these.

I'll hopefully be able to show some design advance on the next log post!