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Project: WalkerBot

Robotics is akin to mans’ eternal quest to evolve into a higher
intelligent being, which is a continuous yet, a gradual process. This
realization dawned upon me while working on my final year project. In
retrospect, I feel it was always there, ensconced in my subconscious.

Robotics is not only a specialization; it encompasses a myriad of
Engg fields. The qualitative and quantitative knowledge gained from
the different disciplines of Engg are put to test and this culminates into
creativity coming to life. As thoughts transpire into action through
deliberation; we use the computer as a tool, to bring to life, an
intelligent device, much like a child of the computer. This can be
equated to the process of giving birth. As an engineer I too wanted too
express my creativity by translating my vision into a robot.

The greatest challenge was the fact that robotics is not a subject
in my college curriculum because this field is in a nascent stage in
India. However, this did not deter our team from carrying out the
study on our own. A year before undertaking the project I forged a
team with two other batch mates. The three of us had different
expertise but the same passion for Robotics and allied fields. Our
diverse skills complemented each others work and proved decisive for
the team work. This was the beginning of an intensive learning period
and regular knowledge sharing sessions.

However, we were yet to face our biggest constraint in the form
of non availability of parts and tools, besides a limited budget at our
disposal. Each difficulty was overcome with ingenuity and keen
observation of materials around us. This has also been highlighted in
the synopsis.

When we finally displayed WalkerBot in our college, it was
popularly called as my kid! (Due to its shape and size) and also
deemed as the one of the best major project in the department of
Computer Science and Engineering. This gave further impetus to my
resolve to pursue my interest in robotics.

Sidharth Sood

Project description: WalkerBot is an autonomous biped robot, which
utilizes tilt & stride motion for walking and uses IR sensors for object
detection and avoidance. The Brain or the central control is provided
by reduced 8051 i.e. AT89C2051 (an Atmel variant). The aim is to
make a mechanical device walk with the aid of Electronic
Hardware and control software.

Major Parts and snapshots:

WalkerBot Mainboard (Finished PCB)

WalkerBot Frame

IR Sensor components: IR Detector & IR Led. (Fig-1)

WalkerBot’s Rear View

WalkerBot’s Front View

Walkerbot Top View, observe that the feet are designed from sheet

Selection of parts & Cost Economics
For learning Robotics, readymade kits are available. To our dismay, we discovered
that this was not the case in India as they have to be imported at a very high cost.
But as the old adage goes ‘adversity leads to innovation’. We foraged the local
market for suitable substitutes, and this adventure turned into a lesson on
practical engineering.

Use of Atmel based 8051 microcontrollers, in lieu of 6811hc which is used
for most of the popular robotics experiments abroad. Cost benefit RS 900-40=Rs
840 (cost of 6811hc vs. 8051). Apart form the cost benefit, 8051 is the most
popular IC for embedded system development and also for teaching microcontrollers.
The Atmel variant (AT89C2051) is also, readily available in the Indian

Use of Copper Etched PCB instead of a machine Fabricated one: The
PCB designing was done using Orcad. To further decrease the cost, the PCB was
etched manually, using the wire routing Diagrams made in Orcad Layout. Approx
difference Rs 600/700.

Use of Mechanix: Mechanix a game for children was used, instead of getting
WalkerBot’s body parts forged. In addition to the ease of development, the metal
was light and sturdy as it is a cheap alloy of aluminum. All metallic parts cost about
Rs 250. Note: the game is not a Robot development Kit.

Height of Ingenuity:

• Aluminum Clothes hanger was fashioned into rods (both tilt and stride).
Support rods for the WalkerBot’s feet and motor shafts.

• WalkerBot’s feet were designed out of scrap material (sheet metal) left in a
blacksmiths shop.

• Metallic Curtain clips for making the stride rod.

• Sun Mica for making the base of the battery clamps.

• Sewing Machine Bobbin used as a washel to aid the locomotion of the Legs,
which were clamped by Plastic clips.

• Touch of metallic silver and black paint for the feet and shaft also available at

Keen Observation of daily use appliances:

• Gears and pulleys are used largely in boom boxes and music systems, so
these parts were extracted from old and defunct devices. The humble
cassette player provided the sturdy gear and pulley driven assembly.

• Servos salvaged from junk floppy drives.

Electronic Hardware Design Tool
Orcad 10.0 Unison pack was used for designing the Mainboard of WalkerBot. The
tools used primarily were Orcad Capture and Layout. For details on how the
hardware was selected please look up the soft copy of the file. The following
is a snapshot during the Schematic design phase:

Firmware (Software) Design Tool:

For designing the Control Software Keil C-51 suit of compilers, assemblers,
debuggers and simulator was used. The tool was selected because of the vast
support available on the net, in the form of coding examples and library. Another
advantage of the tool is the size of the output file (Hex code) is quite small, which is
a decisive factor for embedded applications. The coding has been done in C and fully
supplemented with a large no of comments.

Debugging phase during Software Development

WalkerBot’s Theory:


Like humans WalkerBot too, walks using a controlled fall i.e. in humans the body tilts
slightly forward and a leg is moved in front to stop the fall. This is more noticeable
during running or a fall due to misstep.
Similarly, the WalkerBot walks with a controlled but its movement is done via
shuffling and balancing i.e. due to the limited range of movement it can lean to
Either side or stand flat with both feet on the floor.

The simplified algorithm for the walking is thus:

a. Tilt to the right (Motion: Tilt)
b. Move the left leg that is not on the ground, in the forward direction (Motion:
c. fall forward (balance on both feet)
d. Tilt to Left (Motion: Tilt)
e. Move the leg that is not on the ground (Motion: Stride)
f. Fall forward and, go to (a). (Repeat the process)

The steps (a), (b), (d) & (e) comprise shuffling i.e. by tilting to one side and then
striding. The step (c) refers to the act of balancing

Note: The Algorithm has been simplified for explanation but the actual
implementation involves fair bit of programming and knowledge of the hardware


Turning in the case of Walkerbot is Akin to turning on a surface with low
friction like ice or, or a heavily polished floor. On a slippery surface a person turns by
placing one foot ahead and then pulling the same towards him. In a way the
stationary foot is used as a pivot.

Similarly, WalkerBot turns by placing both feet flat on the ground and sliding
them in opposite directions. Moving the feet in opposite directions is somewhat
counterproductive because some of the forces are in opposite directions. The actual
movement is more of a pivot than a turn.

External world sensing

External world sensing is done for Object detection and avoidance by using IR
sensors, as depicted in the figure (fig-1) displayed earlier.

The different possible cases in which the robot can face obstacles are shown on the
succeeding page:

Now, based on these possible cases the algorithm is as follows:

1. Output 38.5 kHz to left IRLED ( i.e. beep the IR LED 38,500 times/second)

2. If receiver detects a signal, there is an obstacle in left hand side, turn right.

3. Stop output of 38.5 kHz to left IRLED.

4. Wait for a particular time.

5. Output 38.5 kHz to right IRLED.

6. If receiver detects a signal, there is an obstacle in right hand side, turn left.

7. If signals are detected by both detectors, there is an obstacle in the front,
default turn right.

8. Stop output of 38.5 kHz to right IRLED.

9. Wait a particular time, for receiver signal to go low.

10. If receiver still detects a signal, the signal may be coming from other source
such as a remote control.

Note: The Algorithm has been simplified for explanation but the actual
implementation involves fair bit of programming and knowledge of the hardware
used and understanding of the Reactive AI Paradigm.