Robotics, like many other technologies, suffered from an inflated set of expectations resulting in a decrease of the developments and results during the 90s. Over the last years, several groups thought that flying robots, commonly known as drones, would address these limitations however it seems unlikely that the popularity of these flying machines will drive and push the robot growth as expected. This article aims to summarize traditional techniques used to build and program robots together with new trends that aim to simplify and enhance the progress in the field.
It’s a rather popular thought that building a robot and programing its behavior remain two highly complicated tasks. Recent advances in adopting ROS as a standardized software framework for developing robot applications helped with the latter, however building a robot remains a challenge. The lack of compatible systems in terms of hardware, the non existing marketplace of reusable modules, or the expertise required to develop the most basic behaviors are some of the few listed hurdles.
The integration-oriented approach
Robots are typically built by following the step-by-step process described below:
1. Buy parts: We typically decide on what components our robot will need. A mobile base, a range finder, a processing device, etc. Once decided we fetch those that match our requirements and proceed towards integration.
2. Integration: Making different components speak to each other and cooperate towards achieving the end goal of the robot. Surprisingly, that’s where most of our time is spent.
3. “build the robot”: Assembling all of the components into joints and mechanically linking them. This step might also get…