October 1, 2012

Baobot is a low-cost robotics platform intended for classrooms at the middle-to-high school level. On September 30, 2012, Baobot was announced as the second place winner in the tethered category for the the AFRON “ $10 Robot” Design Challenge.

soldering_baobotFour of us worked on the robot from July until mid-September. I was in charge of the hardware add-ons, including the power pack and sensor boards. I designed the schematics and boards using KiCad and had the boards produced using ITEAD Studio’s prototyping service. Additionally, I worked with the other team members on the robot design, production, and soldering.

The robot consists of a basic drive platform with add-on modules. The “brain” is an Atmel ATMEGA32U4, which is compatible with the Arduino framework. The schematic is based on Sparkfun’s Arduino Pro Micro. The chassis sports two wheeled gear motors for mobility and headers for sensors. We provided two types of sensors: basic touch “whiskers,” which are directly attached to the chassis, and a line following module that relies on infrared reflectance sensors. A 4xAA battery pack can be added to remove the need for the USB cable.

baobot_fully_loadedWhile we don’t know if there will be any plans for manufacturing Baobot, I have been contemplating a follow-on, which utilizes the modular nature of the robot to create a cheaper version of the LEGO Mindstorms set (although this design would allow for less mechanical variations than its LEGO counterpart).

Our schematics, layout, and code can be found here.

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