Mobile robot

Mobile robot, is a robot that is capable of moving in the surrounding (locomotion). Mobile robotics is usually considered to be a subfield of robotics and information engineering.

Mobile robots have the capability to move around in their environment and are not fixed to one physical location. Mobile robots can be “autonomous” (AMR – autonomous mobile robot) which means they are capable of navigating an uncontrolled environment without the need for physical or electro-mechanical guidance devices.

Some of the earliest Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) were line following mobile robots. They might follow a visual line painted or embedded in the floor or ceiling or an electrical wire in the floor. Most of these robots operated a simple “keep the line in the center sensor” algorithm.

They could not circumnavigate obstacles; they just stopped and waited when something blocked their path. Many examples of such vehicles are still sold, by Transbotics, FMC, Egemin, HK Systems and many other companies.

These types of robots are still widely popular in well known Robotic societies as a first step towards learning nooks and corners of robotics.

Alternatively, mobile robots can rely on guidance devices that allow them to travel a pre-defined navigation route in relatively controlled space. By contrast, industrial robots are usually more-or-less stationary, consisting of a jointed arm (multi-linked manipulator) and gripper assembly (or end effector), attached to a fixed surface. The joint-arm are controlled by linear actuator or servo motor or stepper motor.

More capable robots combine multiple levels of navigation under a system called sliding autonomy. Most autonomously guided robots, such as the HelpMate hospital robot, also offer a manual mode which allows the robot to be controlled by a person.

The Motivity autonomous robot operating system, which is used in the ADAM, PatrolBot, SpeciMinder, MapperBot and a number of other robots, offers full sliding autonomy, from manual to guarded to autonomous modes.

Mobile robots have become more commonplace in commercial and industrial settings. Hospitals have been using autonomous mobile robots to move materials for many years.

Warehouses have installed mobile robotic systems to efficiently move materials from stocking shelves to order fulfillment zones. Mobile robots are also a major focus of current research and almost every major university has one or more labs that focus on mobile robot research. Mobile robots are also found in industrial, military and security settings.

The components of a mobile robot are a controller, sensors, actuators and power system. The controller is generally a microprocessor, embedded microcontroller or a personal computer (PC). The sensors used are dependent upon the requirements of the robot.

The requirements could be dead reckoning, tactile and proximity sensing, triangulation ranging, collision avoidance, position location and other specific applications. Actuators usually refer to the motors that move the robot can be wheeled or legged. To power a mobile robot usually we use DC power supply (which is battery) instead of AC.

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