More tea please.


Formica Project Logo

We’re about a month into the new semester now (argh!), and the work is piling up. However, it’s all really interesting this semester. There’s no managementy goo courses that we have to take, so it’s a semester of continuous technology and knowledge pumping. Excellent.

One really exciting course is Biologically Inspired Robotics (ELEC6087). For this we have to build robots that are in some way biologically inspired. I’m in a group with Jeff, Steve, Alexis and Jo. Our project is called “Formica”. We’re going to build a lot of really cool and small robots that will hopefully exhibit some sort of emergent behaviour from simple rules.

We built this prototype over the weekend:

Promica - Prototype Formica

The prototype is made from bits that we had lying around the place, but it’s pretty true to the design that we had in mind for the final platform. The motors are pager motors, the big chip on top is an MSP430 and there’s a Li-ion battery attached to the underside. We spent some time trying to find two pager motors that had similar characteristics, and in the end resorted to removing the motor from my mobile and the motor from my Dad’s old phone (which is the same model as mine). So if you try to phone me at the moment when my phone’s on silent, I almost certainly won’t answer. Jeff had a stroke of genius and extracted the battery from his bluetooth headset (it could be a Li-ion Polymer and not just a Li-ion, I’m not sure). The wheels are formed using a magic tool that Jeff lathed up, I’m sure he’ll blog about that soon…

The concept of having around 50 of these things driving around and interacting is pretty amazing. I can’t wait until it’s a reality!

Posted at 9:18 pm on Tuesday 4th March 2008
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Formica Project Logo – Version 1.

Formica Logo (Mark 1)

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Posted at 1:12 am on Tuesday 4th March 2008

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