Robot Programming: A Guide to Controlling Autonomous Robots

Robot Programming: A Guide to Controlling Autonomous Robots

by Cameron Hughes, Tracey Hughes


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Start programming robots NOW!

Learn hands-on, through easy examples, visuals, and code

This is a unique introduction to programming robots to execute tasks autonomously. Drawing on years of experience in artificial intelligence and robot programming, Cameron and Tracey Hughes introduce the reader to basic concepts of programming robots to execute tasks without the use of remote controls.

Robot Programming: A Guide to Controlling Autonomous Robots takes the reader on an adventure through the eyes of Midamba, a lad who has been stranded on a desert island and must find a way to program robots to help him escape. In this guide, you are presented with practical approaches and techniques to program robot sensors, motors, and translate your ideas into tasks a robot can execute autonomously. These techniques can be used on today’s leading robot microcontrollers (ARM9 and ARM7) and robot platforms (including the wildly popular low-cost Arduino platforms, LEGO® Mindstorms EV3, NXT, and Wowee RS Media Robot) for your hardware/Maker/DIY projects. Along the way the reader will learn how to:

  • Program robot sensors and motors
  • Program a robot arm to perform a task
  • Describe the robot’s tasks and environments in a way that a robot can process using robot S.T.O.R.I.E.S.
  • Develop a R.S.V.P. (Robot Scenario Visual Planning) used for designing the robot’s tasks in an environment
  • Program a robot to deal with the “unexpected” using robot S.P.A.C.E.S.
  • Program robots safely using S.A.R.A.A. (Safe Autonomous Robot Application Architecture) Approach
  • Program robots using Arduino C/C++ and Java languages
  • Use robot programming techniques with LEGO® Mindstorms EV3, Arduino, and other ARM7 and ARM9-based robots.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780789755001
Publisher: Que
Publication date: 05/26/2016
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 594,033
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Cameron Hughes is a computer and robot programmer. He holds a post as a Software Epistemologist at Ctest Laboratories where he is currently working on A.I.M. (Alternative Intelligence for Machines) and A.I.R. (Alternative Intelligence for Robots) technologies. Cameron is the lead AI Engineer for the Knowledge Group at Advanced Software Construction Inc., a builder of intelligent robot controllers and software-based knowledge components. He holds a staff appointment as a Programmer/Analyst at Youngstown State University. Tracey Hughes is a senior software and graphics programmer at Ctest Laboratories and Advanced Software Construction Inc. where she develops user interfaces and information and epistemic visualization software systems. Her work includes methods of graphically showing what robots and computers are thinking. She is on the design and implementation teams for the East-Sidaz robots at Ctest as well.

Both Cameron and Tracey Hughes are members of the advisory board for the NREF (National Robotics Education Foundation) and members of the Oak Hill Collaborative Robotics Maker Space. They are project leaders of the technical team for the NEOACM CSI/CLUE Robotics Challenge and regularly organize and direct robot programming workshops for the Arduino, Mindstorms EV3, LEGO NXT, and RS Media robot platforms. Cameron and Tracey are two of the authors of Build Your Own Teams of Robots with LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT and Bluetooth, published by McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, January 2013. They have written many books and blogs on Software Development and Artificial Intelligence. They’ve also written books on multicore, multithreaded programming, Linux rapid application development, objectoriented programming, and parallel programming in C++.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Robot Programming Boot Camp 2

Ready, Set, Go! No Wires or Strings Attached 2

Boot Camp Fundamentals 3

Core Robot Programming Skills Introduced in This Book 4

BURT–Basic Universal Robot Translator 4

BRON–Bluetooth Robot Oriented Network 6

Assumptions About the Reader’s Robot(s) 6

How Midamba Learned to Program a Robot 7

1 What Is a Robot Anyway? 9

The Seven Criteria of Defining a Robot 10

Criterion #1: Sensing the Environment 11

Criterion #2: Programmable Actions and Behavior 11

Criterion #3: Change, Interact with, or Operate on Environment 11

Criterion #4: Power Source Required 11

Criterion #5: A Language Suitable for Representing Instructions and Data 12

Criterion #6: Autonomy Without External Intervention 12

Criterion #7: A Nonliving Machine 13

Robot Categories 13

What Is a Sensor? 16

What Is an Actuator? 17

What Is an End-Effector? 18

What Is a Controller? 19

What Scenario Is the Robot In? 23

Giving the Robot Instructions 25

Every Robot Has a Language 25

Meeting the Robot’s Language Halfway 27

How Is the Robot Scenario Represented in Visual Programming Environments? 30

Midamba’s Predicament 30

What’s Ahead? 32

2 Robot Vocabularies 33

Why the Additional Effort? 34

Identify the Actions 38

The Autonomous Robot’s ROLL Model 39

Robot Capabilities 41

Robot Roles in Scenarios and Situations 42

What’s Ahead? 44

3 RSVP: Robot Scenario Visual Planning 47

Mapping the Scenario 48

Creating a Floorplan 49

The Robot’s World 52


Pseudocode and Flowcharting RSVP 56

Flow of Control and Control Structures 60

Subroutines 64

Statecharts for Robots and Objects 66

Developing a Statechart 68

What’s Ahead? 72

4 Checking the Actual Capabilities of Your Robot 73

The Reality Check for the Microcontroller 76

Sensor Reality Check 79

Determine Your Robot’s Sensor Limitations 81

Actuators End-Effectors Reality Check 84

REQUIRE Robot Effectiveness 87

What’s Ahead? 89

5 A Close Look at Sensors 91

What Do Sensors Sense? 92

Analog and Digital Sensors 95

Reading Analog and Digital Signals 97

The Output of a Sensor 99

Where Readings Are Stored 100

Active and Passive Sensors 101

Sensor Interfacing with Microcontrollers 103

Attributes of Sensors 107

Range and Resolution 108

Precision and Accuracy 108

Linearity 109

Sensor Calibration 110

Problems with Sensors 111

End User Calibration Process 112

Calibration Methods 112

What’s Ahead? 114

6 Programming the Robot’s Sensors 115

Using the Color Sensor 116

Color Sensor Modes 118

Detection Range 119

Lighting in the Robot’s Environment 119

Calibrating the Color Sensor 119

Programming the Color Sensor 120

Digital Cameras Used to Detect and Track Color Objects 124

Tracking Colored Objects with RS Media 124

Tracking Colored Objects with the Pixy Vision Sensor 128

Training Pixy to Detect Objects 129

Programming the Pixy 130

A Closer Look at the Attributes 134

Ultrasonic Sensor 135

Ultrasonic Sensor Limitations and Accuracy 135

Modes of the Ultrasonic Sensor 139

Sample Readings 140

Data Types for Sensor Reading 141

Calibration of the Ultrasonic Sensor 141

Programming the Ultrasonic Sensor 143

Compass Sensor Calculates Robot’s Heading 153

Programming the Compass 154

What’s Ahead? 157

7 Programming Motors and Servos 159

Actuators Are Output Transducers 159

Motor Characteristics 160

Voltage 160

Current 161

Speed 161

Torque 161

Resistance 161

Different Types of DC Motors 161

Direct Current (DC) Motors 162

Speed and Torque 165

Motors with Gears 167

Motor Configurations: Direct and Indirect Drivetrains 177

Terrain Challenge for Indoor and Outdoor Robots 178

Dealing with Terrain Challenges 179

Torque Challenge for Robot Arm and End-Effectors 182

Calculating Torque and Speed Requirements 182

Motors and REQUIRE 183

Programming the Robot to Move 184

One Motor, Two, Three, More? 185

Making the Moves 186

Programming the Moves 186

Programming Motors to Travel to a Location 191

Programming Motors Using Arduino 198

Robotic Arms and End-Effectors 200

Robot Arms of Different Types 201

Torque of the Robot Arm 203

Different Types of End-Effectors 205

Programming the Robot Arm 208

Calculating Kinematics 212

What’s Ahead? 216

8 Getting Started with Autonomy: Building Your Robot’s Softbot Counterpart 219

Softbots: A First Look 222

Parts Section 224

The Actions Section 224

The Tasks Section 224

The Scenarios/Situations Section 224

The Robot’s ROLL Model and Softbot Frame 225

BURT Translates Softbots Frames into Classes 227

Our First Pass at Autonomous Robot Program Designs 239

What’s Ahead? 240

9 Robot SPACES 241

A Robot Needs Its SPACES 242

The Extended Robot Scenario 242

The REQUIRE Checklist 245

What Happens If Pre/Postconditions Are Not Met? 248

What Action Choices Do I Have If Pre/Postconditions Are Not Met? 248

A Closer Look at Robot Initialization Postconditions 249

Power Up Preconditions and Postconditions 251

Coding Preconditions and Postconditions 252

Where Do the Pre/Postconditions Come From? 257

SPACES Checks and RSVP State Diagrams 262

What’s Ahead? 263

10 An Autonomous Robot Needs STORIES 265

It’s Not Just the Actions! 266

Birthday Robot Take 2 266

Robot STORIES 268

The Extended Robot Scenario 269

Converting Unit1’s Scenario into STORIES 269

A Closer Look at the Scenario’s Ontology 271

Paying Attention to the Robot’s Intention 282

Object-Oriented Robot Code and Efficiency Concerns 304

What’s Ahead? 306

11 Putting It All Together: How Midamba Programmed His First Autonomous Robot 307

Midamba’s Initial Scenario 307

Midamba Becomes a Robot Programmer Overnight! 308

Step 1. Robots in the Warehouse Scenario 310

Step 2. The Robot’s Vocabulary and ROLL Model for Facility Scenario #1 312

Step 3. RSVP for Facility Scenario #1 313

Visual Layouts of a Robot POV Diagram 315

Midamba’s Facility Scenario #1 (Refined) 316

Graphical Flowchart Component of the RSVP 317

State Diagram Component of the RSVP 324

Midamba’s STORIES for Robot Unit1 and Unit2 325

Autonomous Robots to Midamba’s Rescue 338

Endnote 342

What’s Ahead? 342

12 Open Source SARAA Robots for All! 343

Low-Cost, Open-Source, Entry-Level Robots 344

Scenario-Based Programming Supports Robot Safety and Programmer Responsibility 345

SARAA Robots for All 346

Recommendations for First-Time Robot Programmers 348

Complete RSVPs, STORIES, and Source Code for Midamba’s Scenario 349

A BURT’s Gotchas 351

TOC, 9780789755001, 4/19/16

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