Jake Scherlis | Vivian Qiu | Myles Blodnick
Waddle is a quirky robot with movements reminiscent of a duck.
Waddle was created to explore the idea of an autonomous entity that comes to life, with a distinct personality displayed through its response to stimulus. After exploring a wide range of potential behaviors, we decided to match the robot’s movement to its 'lovability' in a way that draws people in and engages them in an interaction.
The personality is achieved through the physical motion of the robot in response to two types of stimulus detected by proximity sensors and sound sensors. In this iteration, Waddle exhibits an engaging reaction to music or sound, while responding to its environment to avoid collision. As a result, Waddle is an adorable waddling robot that effectively navigates around a crowded room.
Fabrication and Design
Waddle’s mechanical structure is a result of three prototypes and many explorations. Some of the greatest technical challenges included counterbalancing the robot’s constantly shifting center of gravity, maintaining structural rigidity in certain parts of the chassis while allowing for movement in others, packaging electronics without interfering with the robot’s movement, and finding appropriate mounting mechanisms. This final iteration of the chassis allows for a wide span for the balance servo to move, giving the feet of the robot more space to move up and down. Consequently, Waddle moves with much more stability and does not require as much finesse in its counterweights.
Waddle's is powered by three servos: two that act as the left and right feet and the third as a balancing mechanism. An Arduino Uno was utilized as the microprocessor along with two sensors: a microphone and an ultrasonic range finder. A mini protoboard was used to connect the power to the servos and sensor. On the software side, the walking algorithm was adjusted through many tweaks over many iterations.
The distance sensor allows the robot to turn when it detects an obstruction that would prevent it from moving forward. In response to music or other audio stimuli, sound sensors prompt Waddle to dance. Whenever sound levels surpass a certain threshold, Waddle would trigger a dancing sequence. However, the use of a sound sensor proved to be difficult in the presence of other components; Implementing the sound sensor would require a complete redesign of the established circuitry. This is because the sound sensor would result in the robot drawing over 500 milliamps, more than the step ups are able to manage.