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Thread: land or air for bot

  1. land or air for bot

    I am thinking of starting a fun project to build a bot to scare off varmints. Basically unmanned and move along a fixed course via gps periodically at night. I am curious to hear from folks with more experience than myself (this will be my first bot) of the pros and cons of going air (like maybe a quadcopter) vs land (hexapod, track based, etc..). The terrain isn't too rough but there are some bumps and up/downhill. I was leaning towards air but after seeing some videos of the hexapods out there I thought that would be pretty cool as now not sure.

    Thanks in advance!

    Last edited by esc; 04-14-2013 at 06:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Re: land or air for bot

    Reliability will be far, far, far easier to achieve with wheels/tank treads.

  3. #3

    Re: land or air for bot

    As far as I can tell, the robustness of wheels > treads > walkers > fliers.

    Although Boston Dynamics had a hexapod-based surveillance robot on youtube a while back, that navigated semi-rough wilderness, so perhaps that might be something to look at.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Whidbey Island, WA
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    Re: land or air for bot

    These sort of posts are always fun.

    I think one potential problem you might run into is run time. If you want this thing to cover any distance at all your biggest short term obstacle will be powering the thing in a way that keeps it useful. Flying requires you keep things light, this limits your payload and therefor limits your run time. Walking has similar issues. Wheels or treads increase your payload -> increased runtime through larger batteries, but again you will still be limited. Why not something like a zipline or ribbon? The robot could be suspended from an overhead tether which would allow you to supply it with a constant supply of power and an easy path to follow. Basically the robot would be limited to the overhead cable which you could string up in the path that you wanted the robot to patrol. Just an idea.

    Good luck!


  5. Re: land or air for bot

    Hey...thanks for all the responses. Those hexapods just look so neat! But I guess they may not work for what I am wanting. Also battery life was definitely a concern for me so I am glad that was brought up. Its not as cool as a hexapod or something airborne but was doing some research about using the dagu wild platform...which is the most reliable (not as sexy) but seems reasonable. Have any of you all worked with these? Or have other thoughts?

  6. #6

    Re: land or air for bot

    Another thing to keep in mind is safety. I have built a few quadrotors, they are super fun, but they can be crazy dangerous. There are enough horror stories of people getting cut up with the props already out there if you care to look. True guidance and positional reckoning with them is still being worked on. From where I last checked in with things it might be a matter of getting the GPS positioning to get it within a few 10's of meters from desired position. Things have certainly gotten somewhat better as time goes on, but I still don't think it's "ready for prime time", at least not with the hobby level stuff available today.
    They would not be my first choice in an autonomous, unsupervised platform. An object supported by the ground (or the zipline idea is really cool) is hard to beat in this case.

  7. Re: land or air for bot

    Ok thanks everyone. I have ruled out air for this project and will stick to land based.

  8. #8

    Re: land or air for bot

    I may have it bookmarked on my other computer, but I saw a wheeled wifi controlled rover (was orange with a big clear dome on top) that someone used for remote security patrols. They had a neat docking station set up to charge it, but I am sure it would be dangerous, as it was basically two big contact bars, with two spring loaded contacts on the robot. It was fairly enormous though. If I can dig it up later I will link it.
    I would go with wheels or treads just to make it easy. if you wanted it to be fairly large, try and find one of those wheelchair/hoverround things.

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