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Further Experiments

One of the things that’s really fun to do with building projects like this is to tweak them when they’re done. Using the MIT AI Lab’s idea of building upon previous successes (see Chapter 2, “Robot Evolution”), you can now think about improvements to your walker—evolutionary upgrades. Unfortunately, this “robot” is limited in what you can do with it, and it mainly involves reworking the legs. If you used the LMPs in the construction, you can easily remove the existing legs, reshape them, or make new pairs. Try much shorter legs, longer legs, legs that are high in the back and low in the front. Try legs that have “knees” at the feet—in other words, rounded tips on the ends (whereas ours are straight wire) with tubing where the rounded knee meets the ground. Try rubber on the feet, little pieces of sand paper, poster putty, anything that might afford more traction (and of course, look cool).

The Absolute Minimum

We don’t know about you, but our hands are really dirty and we’ve got an animated coat hanger scuttling across our desk. Here are a few things to take away from this experience:

  • You can design ingenious machines with minimal mechanics and electronics if you’re really smart. Barring that, you can find plans for them on the Net, like we did with our cool one-motor walker.

  • The breadboard has given “rise” (okay, that’s just sad—we apologize) to many an electronics project. Knowing how to use this basic circuit designing/testing tool is essential to good robot building.

  • The servo motor is an extremely useful type of actuating/drive train technology that can be used in many different ways to create either back and forth (walking) motion or continuous rotation.

  • Bug-like walking machines, even ones with no sensors or real brains, exhibit a type of persistence and motion that is extremely lifelike.

  • Building stuff is fun!



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