Code : Robots : Balancing robots (LegWay / NXTWay-GS)

For the research/science days in September 2008, we built and demonstrated 3 NXTway-GS robots (Lego Mindstorm NXTs that balance similarly to Segways, see below for references). Kids (and adults!) were allowed to drive the NXTways using USB Gamepads, either playing around on an arena on top of a couple of tables, or attempting to drive the NXTways down a ramp from the arena to the floor.

This was a successful attention grabber, allowing us to start discussing the use of maths, physics and computer science in robots and control systems as well as education possibilities and some of the research activites in the Computer Science department.

The robots have later been used for other outreach and recruitment purposes. Among other things, we have participated in the "Yrke og Utdanning" (profession and education) exhibitions in Trondheim and Tromsø early 2009, where the university won "Best stand" for the Tromsø exhibition (see the CS department news for some pictures from the events).

In 2010, we extended the robot system to control the robots from multiple input devices. The first demonstration in September included support for mobile phone (Android), Wii Balance Board and Joystick/Gamepad control.

A short video that demonstrates the robot balancing over a pillow (YouTube link, local copy here):

This video shows the interfaces that were added in 2010:

The Science Centre in Tromsø has built an exibition based on these robots. Here is a video they released before the opening:

Modifications and source code


John Markus Bjørndalen
Last modified: Mon Sep 19 14:04:34 CEST 2011