The Office Robot

At my office, it’s pretty common practice to work from home.  But when I’m working from home, I lose touch with what’s going on at work.  And we have a few people on the team who live in a completely different province.  What if we could have a robot that could be controlled over the Internet, and provide a way for people to remotely interact with each other?

I found this robot chassis at a local hobby electronics store for something around $25.  Four wheels, four motors and some laser-cut acrylic parts to hold it all together.  It looks something like this:


Of course, this is only a basic chassis, but it’s relatively cheap, and it’s something I can build upon.  Without driver hardware and control software, it’ll do nothing.

Primary Components

Aside from the chassis itself, the system has a number of parts to make it all work.  Most of these start off as breadboard prototypes and then turn into prettier PCBs.

Power Supply

Converts power from 11.1v batteries to two stable output supplies.

Raspberry Pi (or maybe Intel Edison)

Provides a high-level interface to control and interact with the robot.

Interface Board

Connects power supply for Raspberry Pi, and provides interface to Motion Controller board (over SPI)

“Motion Controller” board

Coordinates two Motor Controllers (over I2C), and provides analog and/or logic-level interfaces for distance and collision sensors.

“Motor Controller” boards (x2)

Watches the position encoders on two wheels.  I could probably get away with just having one piece of hardware to control all four wheels, but where’s the fun in that?

3 thoughts on “The Office Robot”

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