our robots

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Chris Adams
lego robot 1, b/w lego robot with cones on infra-red sensors lego robot 3
lego robot 4, a mass of wires lego robot 5
Lego vehicles

lego robot sumo lego robot sumo 2 lego robot sumo with mirrors
lego robot sumo ready to start
Robot competitions
Lego Vehicles    We build a large number of autonomous Lego vehicles. They are controlled by 68000-like `brain bricks', which are programmed in C, or in a high-level pseudo-parallel language called CPL developed within the department. The brain bricks can be connected to Lego motors, as well as a variety of sensors. Sensors used for teaching vehicles are infra-red range sensors, bumper microswitches, whiskers, light-dependent resistors, and a hall-effect sensor. Research vehicles normally include other sensors also.

The use of Lego allows the morphology (shape) of the vehicle to be changed easily. This allows us to investigate the relationship between morphology, environment, and behaviour.

These vehicles are used for research and as part of our Intelligent Sensing and Control course. Lego robots built as the practical part of this course participate in a competition, currently rubgy although in previous years we've done Sumo wrestling instead, or had a `most interesting robot' competition.

Visit the film icon MRG Robot Movies page to see some Lego vehicles in action.

The local press saw our rugby-playing robots in April, 2000. The Sun article is 0.69Mb, and the The Daily Record is 0.96Mb. Smaller versions can be downloaded: The Sun (0.12Mb), and the The Daily Record (0.2Mb).  

one lego robot leading another lego bat
Research Legos

Our research projects involving Lego robots have included

  • one robot teaching another how to follow a maze,
  • a robot cricket finding the source of cricket song,
  • and robots co-operating to collect polystyrene pieces,
our giant dustbin robot, Gillespie Gillespie 2
Gillespie    Gillespie is our newest research robot. It is a Real World Interface B21 mobile robot with a video camera on a pan-tilt head, infrared, sonar and bump sensors, and PCs running Linux and programmed in C.

It has been used for investigating optical flow and face recogition and is currently being used to model social interactions and social learning with a human.

robot bat sonar head
RoBat    RoBat is a 6 degree of freedom biomimetic sonar head mounted on a mobile robot. It is used for investigating a `constant frequency' bat's sensorimotor system for obstacle avoidance and prey capture behaviours.
Khepera robot Khepera robot
Khepera robot arena
Kheperas    The Khepera robots are very small 2-wheeled circular mobiles made by K-Team that are powered and controlled by an overhead umbilical. They have been used as robot crickets, for learning by imitation and other communication tasks.

Koala robots
Koalas    Koalas are slightly bigger 6-wheeled robot vehicles also made by K-Team.
Walking robot Smudge
Walking robots
Walking Robots    We have developed some walking robots including a four-legged walker which proved difficult to control (it fell over).
The Cat    For the cat project, we are putting together a robust robot of our own. The purpose of the cat is survival - it has no `tasks' in the normal sense. The cat will be controlled by an improved version of the `brain bricks' used by the LEGO robots, with added transputers. This work has no grants associated with it so it proceeds slowly in student-project-sized pieces.
Ben Hope
Ben Hope
Bill and Ben    Ben Hope and its successor Bill are quite substantial `steerable-base' robots. They carry a video camera and several T800 transputers (RISC microprocessors with fast inter-processor communication), so that they can do simple real-time vision. The transputers are programmed in Parallel C or Occam. Ben also has a belt of ultrasonic range sensors around its waist. Ben was used for maze-following and organising chairs. Bill was built for experimenting with a biologically-inspired control model, but never quite reached active service.

Cairngorm, a
Fisher Technik maze-following robot
Cairngorm, the 3rd RUR
Really Useful Robots    The Really Useful Robot (RUR) vehicles were constructed out of Fisher-Technic and controlled by 68000-ish `brain bricks', which were programmed in C. The brain bricks connected to FT motors, as well as a pair of binary whiskers. This peripheral configuration provided the RURs with crude odometry and short-range tactile information.

Really Useful Robots were used to navigate mazes, sometimes building maps of the environment as part of that process.

Contact: Bridget Hallam Last updated: 22/12/00