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Beam Robotics and Nervous Networks

Beam Robotics and Nervous Networks

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Published by: Toaster97 on May 06, 2013
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Beam Roboticsand NervousNetworks(EmergingTrends InRobotics)
The field of 
has been a fascination since theadvent of computational technologies. To induce life intothe robos, complex and powerful electronic componentsare required. Hence advance knowledge and great fundsare required to build even small robots. These createhurdles to the beginners in this field. These hurdles can beovercome by adopting a new philosophy called
formulated by
Mark. W. Tilden.
Hereminimal electronics are used and using solar power,miniature creatures are created first from which new prototypes can be evolved. Unlike conventional robos,which use costly
microprocessor controlled architecture,
these have interconnection of elementary circuits called
Here a
reconfigurablecentral network oscillator 
is utilized for autonomous andindependent operation of components. Further it favorsdevelopment of legged robos. The nervous technology provides (1)
pulse delay circuits
(neurons),interconnected in closed loops, which generate squarewaves and (2)
pulse neutralization circuits.
centralsequencing network 
limb circuits
control thedirection of the motor thereby the motion of their legs.The advantage is that the use of microprocessors andcostly components is eliminated and the processes arelocalized and self-sustaining. Thus beginners and studentscan implement the innovative ideas without having highknowledge, skill and fund.
We are very happy to place this paper before theacademic fraternity. Now it will be our pleasure toreceive the reader’s feedback. We feel such a feedback isvital to improving the knowledge of an efficient engineer, thereby achieving its purpose.
1. I
Today the field of ROBTICS is a fascination for the menof science .The final zeal of any robo scientist is to createrobos those have ability to think and act accordingly bythemselves.To achieve this,use mechanical componentsthat are stimulated by powerful electronic circuits andcomputer chips that store the programs and controlanything are required.For beginners to enter this arenathere are many stumbling blocks.A deep knowledge of thesubject,great deal of research and financial support arerequired as the complex circuits and microprocessors costa fortune.Mark W.Tilden formulated a new philosophythat enables even children to enter this fascinatingarena.BEAM Robotics is a brainchild of this man. It is anew field in robotics. It uses minimalist electronics tocreate elegant mechanical creatures. BEAM devices comein infinite shapes and sizes.The brains used to controlBEAM "life forms" are
nervous networks
which are verysimple containing no microprocessors. By wiring in basicsensors to influence the nervous network, we can controlhow the robot behaves These sensors include lightdetectors, touch feelers, heat sensors and just aboutanything you can think of.The
nervous network 
is an interconnection of basicelemental circuits called the ‘pulse delay circuits’,actinglike a neuron,generating a square wave and hencefunctioning as an oscillator.The most significantcharacteristic of nervous network is the absence of microprocessors and other complicated circuitry to enablelocomotion.The nervous network in robotic limb control issimple and autonomous, and any incorporated complexcircuitry in the robot can be fully dedicated to the actual purpose of the robot rather than its locomotion.
2. P
Robots are particularly useful in applications which pose ahazard to living beings, for example in security functions,dealing with toxic materials, working in hazardousenvironments, and so on.To date the most successfuldesigns have involved wheeled devices. However,wheeled devices have very limited utility in manyenvironments for example in rough or soft terrain.Moreover, any wheeled device is restricted to largelyhorizontal travel, since traction relies entirely on the forceof gravity.On the other hand, legged devices are capableof traveling on virtually any type of terrain. and if  properly equipped are able to climb vertically.Autonomous legged creatures,to move and reacteffectively within their environment,they require precise synchronizing control circuitry and the abilityto adapt to new conditions as they arise.Until now, all attempts to create such a device haveinvolved elaborate arrangements of feedback systemsutilizing complex sensor inputs and extensive controland sequencing circuitry hard-wired to one or morecentral processors.Such a robot is extremely complex and expensive to build, even to accomplish very simple tasks.Moreover, due to the complexity of such a device andits heavy reliance on a central processing system power requirements are enormous, and a relativelyminor problem, such as injury to a limb, is likely to
resistor and the capacitor induce a time delay between theinput and the output, and the delay is determined by thetime constant RC. Hence the delay can be controlled byvarying the value of the resistance and the capacitance.Preferred value of capacitance is 0.1µF and resistance is between 5 MΩ to 10 KΩ for a propagation delay of 0.25to 1 sec. Lowvalueocause
total system failure.
Such walking devices areaccordingly impractical for other than experimental or educational uses.
3. S
nervous technology
overcomes the given problemsand other disadvantages by providing acompletelydifferentcontrol systemapproach.Rather thanutilizing a
central  processor 
to process sensor information andresponsivelydrive allmechanical processes, the device of the robot utilizes a
reconfigurable central network oscillator 
to sequence the processes of the devices limbs, each of which is itautonomous. Once activated, each limb sequentiallyexecutes its processes independent of the centralsequencer.The nervous technology further provides a
pulse delaycircuit,
with a delay of variable duration, which connectedto a second pulse delay circuit acts as an artificial"neuron". The central and limb-actuating processes areachieved by a number of such "neurons" connected inseries. The delay duration is determined merely by ananalog bias input to one or more "neurons", which may becontrolled remotely or in response to local sensor stimulation.The nervous network is made of basic elemental circuitcalled the pulse delay circuit (neuron). The neurondiagram is given below.It is made of simple electronic components like theresistor, capacitor and inverter. The capacitor forms a"differentiating
in a circuit and responds tochanges in input voltage. The inverter gives an output,which is the exact opposite of the input. So if a high inputis given a low output is obtained and vice-versa. Thecapacitanceincreasesefficiency.Similarly if many neuronsare connectedin series withone another,the output of the last neuronconnected tothe input of thefirst, it forms a closed loop oscillator in which thealternate neurons have similar states. The output of thecircuit goes high and low repeatedly. This is one type of anervous network. Many more complex nervous networksexist.
The Pulse Delay Circuit (PDC) is shown.
Certain additions to the basic neuron have been made. Theresistors R1 may be referenced to ground, as shown in thefigure in which case the PDC's will respond only to positive logic data and will be triggered by the leadingedge of a pulse at the input of the inverter. Alternatively,resistor R1 may be referenced to the source voltage, inwhich case the PDC's will respond only to negative logicdata and will be triggered by the trailing edge of a pulse atthe input of the inverter. Below the inverter is the outputwaveform of the nervous neuron. It is a
square wave.
This wave essentially takes on a life of its own, and isoften called a
Depending on the network'sinitialization circuitry, we can have one or more active processes running around in it. The native state for a"raw" Nervous Net at power up is saturation -- here, thereare half as many active processes as there are Nervous(alternate Nervous are active at any given time).Another elemental component of the nervous network isthe
pulse neutralization circuit.
The diagram of the Pulse
Neutralization Circuit (PNC) is shown.
It is different from the pulse delay circuit in that the position of the resistor and the capacitor has beeninterchanged. This is actually a neural neuron and it is

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