Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'v spent a couple of months perfecting a hovercraft-based robot. My initial goal was to develop a line of robots that behaved like satellites in a weightless environment. They would not move around on wheels (what good are wheels in space?) but navigate around on jets of air (safer than hot rocket exhaust). I discovered though, that air hockey tables can't generate sufficient air flow to lift the robot base. After another year and a half of thinking, I decided to use a hovercraft base in place of the air table. The design I came up with was made possible my resources on the Internet. The toy hovercraft described where just the thing to help me develop the NearSys HoverBot. Unlike traditional robots, the HoverBot accelerates when it drives. Most robots travel at a fixed speed that makes it easier to program navigation goals. The HoverBot roboticist must think about time, acceleration, velocity, and displacement when navigating. Here's an introductory video. You can learn more in my Servo magazine article and can soon purchase a kit from my website,