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Scratchbot: Whiskers to the rescue

Scratchbot is designed as a rescue bot, going places where there is low visibility. It’s defining feature is the fact that it uses “whiskers” to feel for things. We feel like this is a little gimmicky. If it is a low visibility situation, wouldn’t IR or audio, possibly sonar be a more effective? How would it differentiate between different physical obstacles? Are the whiskers really new? Aren’t they really just bump sensors? Maybe they have something a little more complicated going on. There was another recent bot that utilized whiskers and compared different tactile profiles to determine what it was touching.

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    The guy touches the wiskers, and the bot immediately points it’s ‘head’ at it. Without feeling where it is in the meantime…

    So I’d say there’s someting more complex going on.

  2. Shane says:

    Still pretty neat, it almost looks like a real creature by the way it moves… But I can’t say that it looks like the “whiskers” are the only things sensing from that demonstration…

  3. Christian says:

    The whiskers would be useful if the robot it likely to run into thin supports that wouldn’t necessarily be picked up on IR or sonar. Something like scaffolding or support cables.

  4. jesus in techicolour says:

    so how do I motorise the whiskers on my cat?

  5. cjac says:

    would be helpful if visibility were limited by say, smoke, that would obstruct any ir or ultrasonic solutions.

  6. talr says:

    I agree. Unless you set the ultrasonic sensor to calibrate itself to the density of the air, and surround gases, I could possibly be a rather inaccurate way of proximity sensing. But then again, it depends on the intended application of the machine…

  7. Benny M says:

    Bristol/Bristle. Am I the only one to notice that?

    I like the idea of whiskers on a bot, but won’t wiggling them complicate the process?

  8. Federico says:

    @techicolour: whiskers are actually protractyle on cats.
    @benny: by wiggling them the robot can probably detect both position and distance of the obstacles more accurately. Whiskers have different lenghts, by counting how many of them are touching the object you can infer the distance probably.

    Anyway – the robot looks really fine but… ultrasonic sensors are here since decades and they are now very precise. (And they are not affected by smoke or gases within reasonable percentages)

  9. Iv says:

    It is cute, that’s enough for me !

  10. areddishgreen says:

    The novel thing about these whiskers is that the robot is able to locate the position of the obstruction. Just look at how the head turns to point at the end of the ruler when it detects it, even when it is above and below horizontal. Very cool!

  11. chris says:

    This thing behaves like a mouse, thats the impresive part. I don’t care where the data comes from. maybe you could swap the whiskers for somthing eltse and get the same thing but that don’t matter.

  12. sunjester says:

    looks cool and seem to have recognition of objects. its said cats use their whiskers to see how small of a space they can fit into before they get stuck.

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