A Home Made Robotic Platform based on Theo Jansen Mechanism for Teaching Robotics
The 10th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference

Nowadays, robotics is becoming increasingly popular as an educational platform. Working on robots provides a unique learning experience. The students receive strong and meaningful feedback for physically experience their work, allowing them to acquire important skills that will help them during their school years and beyond (scientific approach, problem solving skills, creativity). This paper proposes a robotic platform based on Theo Jansen's natural gearing mechanism. This work is focused in the design and development of the low cost robotic platform. The components used are readily available and inexpensive which makes it easy to build by students. The same principle was applied to software, with the focus on open source operating systems, libraries and development tools. With this platform some aspects related to mechanics, electronics, computation, mobile locomotion and surface adaptation can be studied. The design of the robot has been completed with sensors, actuators and a microcontroller that manages all the information. Some modifications in the original mechanism have been needed to get the final prototype. To build the prototype, 3D printing to create the parts of robot has been used, making easier the construction by students. The platform includes a webcam as a sensor in order to allow robotic experiments related to environment modelling and navigation tasks. Finally, to test the robotic platform developed, several experiments have been done. On the one hand, experiments focused on hardware stability and surface adaptation, in which students can learn about robot balance problems. On the other hand, experiments related to environment modelling and navigation that allow the students to work with robot sensors, environment representation concepts and low-level navigation problems

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